Few industries are evolving as quickly and dramatically as the technology industry, with newly developed or improved products hitting the market at a dizzying rate. If you lead a tech company, however, the new technology being made available to consumers is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the immense amount of information that needs to be taken into consideration as you seek to develop your own innovative products.

The vast expanse of data not immediately or easily discernable includes information like patents for similar technologies, insight into what other companies have tried or are currently developing, and analysis of competitors’ efforts.

This is where IP Landscape Analysis comes in, and knowing when and how to leverage it has the potential to significantly increase your competitive edge as a leader in the industry and marketplace.


What is IP Landscape Analysis?

IP Landscape Analysis is a comprehensive gathering and synthesis of current and emerging data surrounding patents and other intellectual property considerations for a specific technical area. It supplies organizations with a broad view of the IP landscape for a given tech product or process, providing valuable context for making decisions regarding prospective avenues of research, development, and marketing.

An IP Landscape Analysis can illuminate broad trends in relation to the development and marketing of the technology in question to help you understand the state of the art, as well as more detailed patent data to help steer your decision making.


What is involved in IP Landscape Analysis?

It is estimated that at least 80% — and sometimes as much as 95% — of technical information is found only in patents and not replicated in any other source (http://patinformatics.com/revisiting-an-old-standard-80-of-technical-information-is-found-only-in-patents/).

The sheer volume and intricacy of patent data renders the process of combing through it, parsing it, pulling what is relevant, organizing it, and synthesizing it into actionable information a specialized task.

IP Landscape Analysis utilizes a combination of software and human analysis in a multi-step process that creates a navigable map for the technology, detailing its origin, the major landmarks along its various paths, places where others have made U-turns, places where others have found a road forward, wide open spaces with unpaved trails, and road blocks.
If for example you own a company that develops wearable technology and you’re considering asking for funding to research a new type of fitness tracker, an IP Landscape Analysis will tell you, among other things, what patents exist for similar technology, what others have tried with and without success, and what areas in the field are relatively undeveloped and wide open for your exploration.


What are the benefits of IP Landscape Analysis?

The benefits of IP Landscape Analysis are many and significant. They include:

  • Knowing the state of the art: Your organization will gain an understanding of the current status, role, and trends related to the technical area being analyzed. This will help you find your own bearings in the landscape, determining where you can make contributions to improving the state of the art, or finding modifications that have yet to be explored and developed.
  • Knowing the players: Does another tech company already hold a patent for a product you were considering, or one like it? An IP Landscape Analysis will give your business team insight into who the major players are in the field that interests you, what they’ve developed, and how they’re marketing it.
  • Knowing how to mitigate risk: An IP Landscape Analysis is a high-value tool for your IP legal counsel, as it will alert you to potential barriers to applying for a patent, as well as help you discover gaps in what is patented so you can potentially design around it.
  • Knowing who your potential acquisitions are: Is there a tech company that’s already done some of what you envisioned, and now holds patents for it? An IP Landscape Analysis can help you identify them so you can consider whether they might be an advantageous acquisition or even partner in a merger.
  • Knowing who the top talent is: One of the benefits of knowing who has developed and patented technology that you are interested in is the potential for recruiting them to work on your own team.

At what point in product development should you invest in IP Landscape Analysis?

IP Landscape Analysis is beneficial at any point in product development, though different benefits may come to the fore at different stages of the process.

If you are at the beginning of product development, still in the research phase, IP Landscape Analysis can be a valuable time-saving tool, helping to identify legal risks before you’ve progressed too far down a path of development. It can also provide data on what did not work for others, sparing you the time and cost involved in going a route that has been shown to fail.

If you are further along in the process of product development, IP Landscape Analysis can help you manage risk as you get closer to launch, and develop marketing strategies that set you apart from your competition.

In the highly competitive and ever-evolving technology market, IP Landscape Analysis is a high-value service that can give you a significant edge over the competition. Regularly engaging in IP Landscape Analysis conducted by a trusted IP law firm is one key way to gain the insight and context needed to mitigate risk and bolster your position in the marketplace.

-Michael Dilworth 

This article is for informational purposes, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and may be considered advertising under applicable state laws. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are not necessarily shared by Dilworth IP, its other attorneys, agents, or staff, or its clients.