Sebastian Kaulitzki / Shutterstock.com
New technologies enabling predictive analysis of big data provide IP professionals with a platform for better decision-making and vastly improved efficiencies. Tyron Stading, president and founder of Innography, a CPA Global company, spoke to WIPR.
Companies across the world are looking to harness the power of information and analytics to make themselves more agile, leaner and ultimately more profitable. Applying information to drive better insight is leading to more effective decision-making in business. In January the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that 60% of the professionals questioned felt that insight from big data is already generating revenue within their organisations, while 83% felt that it was making existing products and services more profitable.
Intellectual property, often seen as a ‘back office’ function, will not be exempt from this trend. Indeed, chief IP officers who embrace the opportunities afforded by better analysis of the myriad of information now available to them will be able to ensure that their IP portfolio demonstrably contributes to the company’s bottom line.
A historical perspective
Tyron Stading, president and founder of Innography, a CPA Global company that provides advanced analytics services to IP professionals and lawyers, believes that many of the tools and processes used by IP organisations have not evolved as fast as the businesses they serve. This is particularly true in the digital age when the acquisition, protection and monetisation of IP lies at the core of business value.
He comments: “In many cases, up to 85% of a company’s value lies in its intangible assets and IP is often a key driver in the most high-profile acquisitions and mergers that make business news headlines. Almost every company can improve its efficiency through the application of new technologies to drive increased insight by combining internal and external data sources.”
CPA Global is pioneering a new generation of modern IP management systems (IPMS) to help organisations better understand not only the cost of protecting innovation, but also the broader value of an IP portfolio. As Stading explains, this is an important distinction: “Every IP department will be able to identify the cost of managing ideas protection. More advanced companies may be able to identify how much revenue the IP portfolio generates for an organisation annually, demonstrating the return on investment that IP protection delivers to the company.
“Fewer will be able to identify the most important IP within the organisation or indeed be able to offer the business counsel on where the next generation of IP should focus.
“However, with the tools becoming available to them, chief IP officers should not only be able to achieve all of this, but also offer strategic direction to the business around key board level questions such as ‘how do we compare to our competitors in terms of core technology?’, ‘are we behind or ahead in our key areas of technology?’, and ‘where should we invest in the future to continue to grow?’”
Technology transforms IP management
Central to this new vision, new technologies have emerged that are transforming the way companies can interrogate large sets of data. According to Stading these include:
The availability of new and complex sources of data (litigation, prosecution, financial, product, etc) and intelligence applied to increase their quality/accuracy. Particularly relevant are sources of data that can be plugged into systems via application program interfaces (APIs) offering a data source updated in real time;
- Cloud computing capabilities. The availability of on-demand computing is facilitating the capability to process these large datasets on demand at a vastly reduced cost than was previously possible; and
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning. Machine learning is transforming a number of industries, enabling companies to process, in seconds, volumes of data that would have previously taken months to analyse. Machine learning is particularly suited to solving highly complex problems quickly and finding patterns hidden deep in datasets.
Each technology is, in itself, transformational, but Stading is most enthusiastic about how these will combine.
“Companies can purchase access to data on around 100 million patents across 100 different jurisdictions, as well as more than two billion websites from a real-time feed. But this is only relevant if they have the processing power and analytics capabilities to find insight. Cloud computing—access to unlimited, on-demand computing power—means that we are now able to data-mine more than two billion web pages for less than the cost of a good meal at a restaurant.
“Meanwhile, machine learning enables companies to analyse petabytes of data at new depths of understanding, searching for patterns and finding the best solutions. Combined, these technologies enable predictive analytics—a science that enables organisations to analyse internal and external data, find trends and discover anomalies that help shape future decision-making.
"Knowing where innovation is taking place, and which companies or individuals are most active, also enables companies to plan future product direction more effectively."
“This technology is already being applied across many industries, such as aviation and telecommunications, to solve the most complex business issues and enable companies to understand the internal and external forces that may shape their futures.”
So how can this shape the future of the IP industry?
Increasing efficiencies in the IP department
Within the IP department, Stading is seeing the most forward-thinking companies deploying predictive analytics in a number of innovative ways.
“Consider a company reviewing patents due for renewal. By identifying the revenues that each patent has generated against the cost of protection, it is simple to make an informed decision. Predictive analytics, however, can identify both internal and external information to evaluate the patent’s strength and relevance.
“Internal information can be supplemented with external data on relevant markets, company market share and potential areas for future exploitation to deliver a far richer and more granular overview of the patent’s potential against the cost of renewal.”
Some corporations are using these technologies to provide an overview of attorney performance such as win and loss ratios or to predict patent office actions and prosecution analysis, as Stading explains:
“Eighty percent of budgets go to filing and prosecution, so the ability to remove low probability filing and increase higher probabilities can help ensure a more successful use of budgets. Another application is in ensuring the validity of data.
“Even today information is often input manually, making it vulnerable to human error. For example, in the US Patent and Trademark Office data there are more than 800 different ways that ‘International Business Machines’ is spelled in patent grants. Artificial intelligence facilitates the cleansing of this data efficiently, which vastly improves communications with patent offices worldwide.”
Each of the examples has the potential to significantly reduce the workload of IP departments at a time when more filings are taking place than ever before.
The transformational impact for business
These technologies are likely to have a major impact on business planning and strategy, potentially driving opportunities for chief IP officers to take on more strategic roles within their organisations, driven by insight from big data analytics.
“Every industry is facing opportunities and threats from different geographies, adjacent industries and game-changing technologies,” notes Stading. “Companies have less time to react to this environment. The internet has globalised every company.
“Strategic business planning on an ongoing basis relies on insight into a complex dataset of changing information, and analytics within IP data sources can help ensure better business decisions.”
Stading refers to examples around budgeting, product strategy, research and development (R&D) and growth strategies.
“Investment in R&D generates a more powerful IP portfolio. The question for companies is which areas will deliver the best R&D return on investment? The informed IP professional will have insight into competitor filings, helping to shape where market opportunities might arise.
“This can ensure engineers are focusing on relevant areas and not overlapping with either competitors’ IP, or even other internal resources. Knowing where innovation is taking place, and which companies or individuals are most active, also enables companies to plan future product direction more effectively.
“The most advanced corporations are now combining internal data on their most profitable patents with external data on new markets to understand where opportunities might exist around the globe for launching new products and monetising more of their IP. This helps with business planning and growth strategies as well as managing investment costs of globalising products more efficiently.”
Stading is keen to point out this is not merely a far-off vision of the future.
“This methodology is available now. The tools are here today, with further advanced applications being deployed in a matter of a few months. Companies that are still manually searching for relevant IP information are not only having to use resources that are less efficient, they are also missing the critical business insight that comes from connecting disparate datasets.”
Stading believes that these tools provide IP professionals with opportunities to add value to the wider business beyond the management and monetisation of IP.
“The resources available to the IP professional go wider and deeper than ever before and offer the opportunity to make much more informed decision-making around their current and future IP portfolios.
“However, the real transformation comes in the impact that access to relevant data has for how a business grows and develops over time—impacting diverse areas such as investment strategy, global growth and product development.
“The argument for IP officers to be an integral part of the entire business planning and development process has never been stronger. Armed with insight derived from properly analysed internal and external data, IP professionals have the opportunity to extend their reach beyond the IP department and more fully shape boardroom strategy.”
Tyron Stading founded Innography in 2006. As president and founder, Stading is responsible for the technology and partnership roadmap. Before working at Innography, he was a solutions manager in the telecommunications and utilities sector at IBM and has also worked at start-ups focused on mobile communications and network security. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
CPA Global, Tyron Stading, R&D, patent, trademark, copyright, big data, IPMS,