To get started, the field of interest has to be framed. Keywords and concepts need to be identified. These come from product specifications or service line descriptions. To obtain them the team reviews product or service line websites and other industry information to capture the more descriptive terms. Another source of information comes from product packaging. This can be obtained by buying or examining a sample of products. The team records words used on packaging to describe the product. The third source is to look at existing patent or intellectual asset portfolios. Key business or scientific terms can be captured to further describe the product, service, or invention. The terms, especially product-function terms, that do not appear in either of the above-mentioned searches are often found in intellectual property information sources. These too should be added to the list.

Starting Point of the Analysis

For this example analysis there are 14 issued US patents related to the technology of interest at the time the analysis was done. They are shown in the “Starting Point of the Analysis” figure. From this figure it can be seen that all are US patents and one is from Air Products, which for the purposes of this example will be considered to be the company running this example (sometimes labeled as “Client” in the graphics and text). There are a mix of inventors and most importantly five product features are mentioned in the titles. What can be concluded from this list is that it is likely a rich source of information on which to get started. The next questions for the analysis team to consider are: Is the art well-known by others? What patents are associated with such other entities? What other work have these inventors done? What products or product functions have been identified?