The purposes of assessing a patent portfolio is to ensure that a corporation drives full value from the technologies and intellectual properties that it owns. Extracting the optimal value from technology requires a company to know, first of all, what technology they own and how much it is worth in the market. This is a difficult thing for technology company managers to wrap their arms around sometimes. Companies may not need all the technology they have, but somebody in the world might, someone who either can pay for it by licensing it from the company, or provide a source for financial write-off.

Companies undertake a portfolio mining process to find and exploit business opportunities inherent in their intellectual property. The process of studying the intellectual property can also suggest better business practices within the company, leading to more effective utilization of R&D resources and a tighter link between the company’s technologies and future trends in the marketplace.

A portfolio assessment or portfolio mining project begins with determining the objectives of the study and ends with the specific steps required to realize value from identified opportunities. Final recommendations can include enforcement, licensing, donation, strategic partnering, termination, or a combination of these activities. As in any mining expedition, the expected revenues impossible to predict ahead of time: it could be large, modest, are not worth the trouble to pursue. Whether the opportunities turn out to be significant or scarce, managers can use their knowledge of the company’s technology strengths and weaknesses to make business decisions informed by the value of intellectual property.

Patents are the most tangible and often the first intellectual property to be recognized and evaluated by a company. But they are by no means the only enough actual property they can make money. Methodologies discussed in relation to a patent portfolio often apply as well to trademarks and know-how.