As a final check the project team focused on individuals who are working in the subfield of interest. There are three ways to do this the first as shown in the “Top Inventors” figure. What can be seen in this analysis is that no one vendor dominates the area. The conclusion the project team came to was that the work was done over an extended period of time by lots of small teams. Another way to look at who dominates the field is to look at who’s been cited most by others. Such individuals are often considered as thought leaders in a technical or business area, and their project work should be tracked closely by competitive intelligence professionals. In this case the “Extraordinary Inventors” figure shows that the top four were from a single company, 3M. These individuals were further researched by the project team using scientific conference and journal literature.
The final use of inventor information is to look for which inventors have patents that are assigned to different corporate assignees. When such is the case this information can reveal hidden partnerships, especially in Japan. It can also give an idea as to whether a person might be obligated by confidentiality or contract restrictions. This is particularly important if a project team identifies an individual they would like to hire for their own new project.