When developing strategic plans it is important to know your competitor strengths and weaknesses. Likewise when developing business partners the same needs exist. The long-term viability of a business is strongly dependent upon knowing your competitor strengths and weaknesses, identifying opportunities and threats these competitors present, and uncovering unknown competitors.

When developing this information resource it is important that the information found be presented in a format that moves a management team toward action. Otherwise it just becomes a book or a folder sitting on the shelf. Following is a generic assessment which provides a representative snapshot of a few competitors.

The analysis starts by conducting a preliminary overview of your own company, competitor, and potential partners’ art in a specific technology business area. This can be done on patent databases using keywords, business or technology classifications, product-function criteria, or known assignee patent portfolios. Comparisons are then made between your own company’s portfolio vis-a-vis known competitors against a background of all other patent art in the relevant area.

The key questions such analyses answer are: (1) how broadly has a given competitor/potential partner filed patents? (2) What is the likely strength and dominance of competitors’ art? (3) What is the likely breadth of competitors’ portfolios outside their existing business use? (4) How likely is it that each competitor can sustain its current innovative pace? (5) How quickly is the field moving? (6) What is the approximate investment over the last ten years? (7) Is there a good partner available?