Patents in technologies and make the first cut are then subjected to increasingly fine levels of review. The “Patent Evaluation Process” figure shows how the patent process starts with hundreds of thousands of technologies and ends up identifying actionable opportunities.
The process is iterative, rather than linear. The exact steps vary depending upon the nature of the opportunity and the company’s goals. Generally during the second and subsequent passes through the portfolio, research is based on an examination of the full patent rather than just the abstract or title. The team refines the potential applications and markets for the technology and identifies additional ones. Ideas are discussed with the inventors. The team continues to sort and clarify as needed. The evaluation team analyzes competing products, examines cited patents, and identifies non-citing relevant patents to evaluate possible blocking technologies. A literature search provides additional background for evaluation.
A brief report on each opportunity is produced, describing this technology and identifying a potential customer for the patent. The customer could be an infringer, licensee, partner etc. Technologies are assessed from the customer’s point of view. The team tries to determine why the other business entity would offer the patent owner money for the technology, whether the technology in question offers advantages over competing methods if any, and whether the size of the effect of market justifies action. Predictions are made to determine what steps are needed to get to the point of a deal or litigation. Clearly this process works best for small patent portfolios as was mentioned earlier. For larger portfolios an automated process makes the most sense.