Competitive Intelligence: Getting Ahead of the Development Curve
Today companies are being forced to cope with rising litigation risk because the business environment is simply more litigious. This increased litigiousness has produced a more rigorous due diligence requirement that involves a greater focus on the way intelligence is gathered and the processes associated with it. Part of this rigorous protocol is to monitor the IP landscape generally and competitive targets specifically (companies, products and technologies), before a decision is made to pursue one or more candidates.
You can monitor technology in a variety of ways as it is being developed. At the inception of a technology, research platforms such as Innography can provide only limited assistance because patents aren’t typically filed until about halfway through the product lifecycle.
The lifecycle of the product usually begins with basic research and progresses through a developmental stage until it is mature enough to patent. After the technology is mature and protected, marketing plans begin to emerge as it is applied to products and finally introduced to the market.
Because Innography analytic results rely in part on patent data, there isn’t a way to use it to thoroughly evaluate the technology between inception and patent prosecution. Innography can assist with evaluating the company, along with its current product and patent portfolio during that phase. But much of the competitive intelligence (CI) research must be performed in more conventional ways.
In the beginning, it can be monitored using resources such as research papers and grey literature. This method is a very important complement to research that can be performed using a research platform like Innography. Using Innography, you can see what companies are investing in which technologies, which can be very good technology investment indicators. It can point you to materials that indicate which type of investments in future technologies are being made today.
As the technology becomes well defined and is deemed to be viable, you can rely on R&D Alliances and joint ventures such as open innovation networks to understand the developmental progress. At this point, the focus of your CI gathering should shift from understanding the technology, to a complete understanding of the company who is investing in its development.
Finally, as the technology comes online and patents are filed and granted, you can begin to understand with greater clarity which of your CI targets represent the best investment and least risk. This is where your IP business intelligence platform becomes critical.
You need to be able to overlay the IP data with business and legal data to give it a business context. It is important to know, for example, whether the new technology really is new and whether its patent is similar to other patents held by litigious companies. In such a case, they might already be aware of the patent and are simply waiting for an acquisition or licensing deal so that they can sue someone with much deeper pockets than the inventor for a patent infringement.