Patent Mining: 5 Ways To Go About It At Your Enterprise

5 Ways to go about patent mining at your enterprise

As a patent portfolio manager, you want to keep abreast of innovations within the enterprise.

You want to detect and capture likely patentable innovation early enough.

It’s you, who best understands the importance of creating valuable IP.

Maybe you are super technical or maybe not.

You may be comfortable in one technology domain but may not understand other technology domains so well. However, you need to capture innovations from all product lines in the enterprise.

This process of patent mining can be challenging in the absence of a systematic approach.

“Patent Mining is like a treasure hunt, the key to the treasure lies in asking the right questions to the right people.”

Patent Mining at your enterprise

The right people being:

  • Developers
  • Engineers
  • Scientists
  • Product Designers
  • Marketing
  • C-suite

And the right questions frame the patentable aspects of innovations across the enterprise. Ready to dive in? Here are the 5 ways you, the patent portfolio manager, would go about mining for patents at the enterprise.

Hanging around innovators

Tapping into existing development checkpoints

Staying up-to-date with product rollout plans

Learning key selling features from the marketing team

Knowing the strategic vision from the C-Suite executives

Hanging Around Innovators for patent mining

Having the smartest employees is wasted if there is no opportunity to uncover their inventive ideas. Hang around people within the enterprise who have titles such as developers, engineers, scientists, and product designers. Find out about the problems they are solving and the technology they are developing to do so. The company presumably hired these sorts of employees to build new things so certainly they are coming up with new ideas as they carry out their work.

Hanging Around Innovators for patent mining

Networking with these groups of technical people will lead to discussions about their work and patenting opportunities.

Tapping Into Natural Checkpoints

Product development is multifaceted. The process has many stages from conceptualization through market release with the process varying in every enterprise. Usually, during the product development process, you have natural checkpoints that you should look out for. For example, during the product development stage, you might have a proposal, design review or customer presentation. These are often opportunities to get insights so lookout for things that could be patented.

Tapping Into Natural Checkpoints for patent mining

Ask questions about the uniqueness or novelty of the product being developed or its advantages. Focus on the responses and get feedback about the products satisfaction of customer needs. The feedback received would often expose a path to new improvements or enhancements that can place you at an advantage over your competitors. Feedback during the product development process identifies inventive ideas which can lead to a patent.

Staying Up-To-Date With Product Rollout

Closely watch as products get ready for rollout. Product rollout is a term used for the introduction and integration of a new product or service to the market. It is important that you listen to people talking about products that are about to be released. The key questions to ask here will be:

Is there anything new?

What is the problem that this product solves?

What are the advantages of the product?

How is it better than the previous version?

Does the new product make use of new technology?

Staying Up-To-Date With Product Rollout for patent mining

Asking these questions can lead you to terrific new insights and you shall be able to spot some potential patenting opportunities. Timeliness is of the utmost importance here. In the U.S. you lose the right to file a patent after one year of disclosing any information about the new product to the public. Marketing often controls the release of product information to create filing deadlines.

Learning Key Selling Features From The Marketing Team

Marketing usually goes hand in hand with the process of new product rollout. It is crucial that you look out for the key selling features that the marketing team is using to sell the new product. For example, the marketing team can claim the new product is more user friendly than previous products of its type or that it is 20% faster than the previous product. Uncover the technology or innovation associated that is creating that difference, and that might be something to file a patent on.

Learning Key Selling Features From The Marketing Team

Catching Up With The C-Suite Executives for patent mining within the enterprise

Networking with key executives on the technical staff, for example, the Chief Technical Officers, Chief Scientists, etc. is key for patent mining within the enterprise. These technical executives usually have a good grip on the strategic vision. They might not be familiar with how patents work so it’s important that you educate them. These key managers usually have their tentacles going in different product directions because they engage firsthand with the technologies used in the enterprise daily. The key managers should be trained to look out for and identify innovations or ideas that can be patented within the enterprise. It is important to catch up with these executives on a regular basis to know their innovative direction.

Catching Up With The C-Suite Executives

Let’s Sum It Up

These 5 patent mining strategies are the ways to go about gathering up inventions for patent protection. Here is a quick recap of the 5 strategies for you:

  • Professionals with roles like scientists, engineers, developers, and designers work on new products, and hanging around them can lead to patenting opportunities.
  • Tapping on the natural checkpoints like proposal, design review or a customer presentation may also help you find patentable innovations.
  • Whether the product is more user-friendly or 20% better at its performance; there is a good possibility of innovation that led to the improvement. Exclusively owning those marketing advantages is a must.
  • Many times marketing goes hand-in-hand with product rollout; learning key selling features from the marketing team may direct you toward the underlying innovations that might be patented.
  • Catching up with the C-Suite executives can help you spot strategic direction; as these are the people who have a complete picture and insider information on what’s happening across the enterprise.

Our founder recently talked about patent mining in one of his Youtube sessions. Here is the video:

Hope this would help you break down the sometimes-overwhelming task of identifying patentable ideas within an enterprise. Patent mining is one task and managing the patent capture is a whole different game. In the absence of the right tool, the information might just be a mess, that no one wants to get into. Hence, you might like to explore software that simplifies the process into stages:

Idea Capturing

Internal Vetting

Patent Drafting

Patent Filing

Portfolio Managing

Patent Mining framework

Here is a good guide for you to evaluate the tools for innovation capture for a sound IP strategy.

5 Factors to Evaluate An Idea Management Tool | IP Strategy

Evaluating an idea management tool

Logically speaking, any investment is worth only if it reaps great returns.

A study by Accenture suggests 62% percent of high-growth companies plan to invest in technologies that lead to higher rates of innovation, compared to 54% of other companies.

Investing in technologies that lead to higher rates of innovation shall be beneficial only if the intellectual property created based on the innovation aligns with:

a) company’s business goals/product line.

b) has a market demand.

c) has the potential to be monetized either by licensing or selling.

d) enhances customer experience.

e) generates revenue growth.

After all, filing a single patent costs a minimum of USD 10,000.

Not sure about the cost of getting IP protection for your product or company? Here is everything you need to know about costs related to your IP in the USA.

Now, where is the scope of failure in creating IP wealth for the company?

1. Patent creation was not thought of from different angles like feasibility, demand, investment, etc.

2. Collaborators from the various segments did not participate in the journey from idea to patent.

3. Redundancy in the novelty of a patent gets caught at a later stage.

All this happens due to the absence of the right tool/software that can assure strategic collaboration and tracking.

So, as a patent portfolio manager of your company, an innovation tracking software tailored to your needs shall be an asset.

A tool that addresses each stage of the journey of an idea to patent as shown below:

Idea Management Process Triangle IP

Here are the 5 factors you should consider while you evaluate an idea management tool:

1. Is the tool easy to use?

2. Is the tool engaging to attract collaborators?

3. Does the tool provide real-time updates?

4. Does the tool manage the process throughout the life-cycle (Idea to Patent)?

5. Does the software keep evolving and getting more sophisticated?

Is the Idea Management Tool Easy to Use?

There is a good possibility that you might have used one of the following ways to manage ideas at your company:

1. Spreadsheets

2. CRM Software

3. Home grown tools comprising forms and tabular data

4. Collaboration tools

5. Expensive Docketing Software

The biggest shortcoming of these solutions is the complexity to use.

Nobody likes to fill long forms. Don’t you agree?

As the number of ideas, collaborators increase, tracking the updates on ideas/innovations becomes tricky and painful.The above mentioned methods are just makeshift arrangements, and not specifically designed keeping user experience in mind.

These tools lack intuitiveness and broad adoption across the enterprise. A user does not feel motivated to use the tool unless really needed. It’s the same as using a handkerchief in place of a specifically designed mask.

A handkerchief is just a make-do arrangement, however, a mask is designed keeping in mind filtration, breath-ability, comfort, ergonomics, etc.

On the contrary, if the tool is easy and simple to use, the collaborators will be encouraged to use the tool. Thus, speeding the process and achieving better results.

Is the Idea Management Tool You are exploring Engaging?

No innovation program is going to be successful unless you make it engaging. If the tool is not engaging, a user won’t be excited or motivated enough to share his/her ideas.

Encouragement to share the ideas is the very basis of such a program. It’s pretty much the same as sharing posts on social media like Facebook or Linkedin.

Engagement on posts through reactions, comments, impressions, views encourage the users to share even more. Not just more sharing, in fact, it gives users an idea of what type of posts score better in terms of response.

Below are just 10 ways out of many that make an idea & innovations management tool engaging:

1. Minimizing the friction to share ideas/feedback/updates or anything related to the tool.

2. A notification of idea submission to the collaborators for review.

3. A notification of feedback reception to innovator/inventor.

4. Patent Analytics driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) based review/rating on an idea from the tool.

5. Redundancy indication from IP Counsel.

6. Inputs on making the claims stronger for a Patent from IP Counsel.

7. Update on an innovation from business angle to all the collaborators.

8. Budget sanction notification for a successful innovation to be patented.

9. Patent draft available for review notification for all the stakeholders.

10. Inviting ideas to solve certain business challenges through innovation.

Does the Tool share Real-Time Updates?

A lot of stuff out there is very static. For example, if you wish to know the status of the company’s IP, you shall place a request for IP report generation to your patent attorney. The report shall most probably be in a form of a table/spreadsheet. Such a report makes it cumbersome to draw valuable insights on the IP front.

Another major problem with such a report is that it very quickly gets out of date. Hence what’s needed is a provision to track what’s happening with your innovations in real-time.

Here is how real-time updates are really beneficial:

1) People get busy developing the product, they forget about what’s happening with their innovation.

2) A system that monitors what’s going on shall help in making sure things are adhering to the process.

3) Timely updates help is avoiding last moment rush:

  • Realizing that you haven’t filed a patent yet and you are closer to the product release.
  • And then you are scrambling through to find out what’s happening and reaching out to IP counsel to get an update.

4) A one-shot way to update all the stakeholders allows for the transparency of the IP management.

Does the tool Manage the Process throughout the Lifecycle (Idea to Patent)?

Does the tool manage the process throughout the life-cycle(i.e. from Idea to Patent)?

The most common and important question that arises in this whole process is: do we file a patent or not?

Earlier the decision about patenting takes place the better it is, as it results in saving time, money, and effort.

Right provisions like below in the idea management tool can help in taking this important decision in the early stages or at least before regretting the investment made in patenting:

1) Visibility into a knowledge repository of ideas helps to avoid redundancy. There is a possibility that a similar idea got patented earlier. Even before the inventor of innovation in question got hired.

2) Vetting by Subject Matter Experts early on helps in shaping the idea and decide which ones to be pursued

3) Ability to view the patent draft as well as final patent application on the same platform.

Does the Innovation Management Tool keep Evolving and Getting more Sophisticated?

A pleasant surprise always makes you feel happy. Isn’t it? And only happy users can ensure the success of such a tool.

Innovations do not happen on a daily basis. But, whenever a user comes to the tool, new pleasing features shall engage him better. So such an innovation tracking tool needs to continuously evolve and keep getting more sophisticated.

Here are a few ways to achieve sophistication in an idea and innovation management software:

1) Improved Analytics

2) Enhanced Idea Nurturing

3) Dashboard driven by Great User Experience

4) Customization based on organizational needs

“With the right tools and a great team create strategic IP wealth and not dead investments.”

For a company, that files 40-60 patents per year, a tool that is specifically designed for idea capturing and vetting is sheer bliss.

It is important to make the best use of budget allocated towards creating IP.

We hope that this article could give you pointers to make the right choice for an idea management software.

TIP Tool is one such tool that is getting developed along the lines mentioned above. It currently provides ideas capturing and vetting.

Want to be a part of our beta community? Try it for free.