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The number of patent applications is exploding every year. For 2022 alone, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has counted 3.46 million. This relentless proliferation shows the extent to which innovation is a powerful driver of competitiveness.

As well as protecting innovations, analysing patent filings – or patent landscaping – has become a powerful strategic tool, revealing the major technological directions of your competitors, but also potential partners, or application markets for an emerging technology.

So understanding the patent landscape is not just a question of legal certainty; it’s a proactive approach to identifying market and partnership opportunities, anticipating potential areas of conflict and protecting your industrial and technological assets as effectively as possible.

Find out in this article how to map your patent environment effectively and refine your protection strategy by choosing the most appropriate vector (patent or industrial secret), while keeping a close eye on your competitors’ developments.

Patent landscape: an essential analysis of industrial property

What is the patent landscape?

The patent landscape is an in-depth analysis of the patent field that provides an overview of patenting activity in a given sector. This strategic approach enables companies to identify who is patenting what, where[1] and in what specific field.

By identifying patent filing trends, including the geographical evolution of filings and the technological areas targeted by competitors, companies can anticipate market movements and adjust their own Industrial Property (IP) strategy.

[1] On the one hand, from which regions of the world do innovations originate, but also in which areas do players protect their inventions.

Why is patent landscaping important?

Patent landscaping is vitally important for a multitude of reasons, over and above its primary function of monitoring competitors.

Preventing the filing of similar patents

Firstly, patent landscaping is essential to prevent the filing of patents that are too close to the company’s strategic technologies. By systematically scanning patent databases worldwide, companies can detect recent filings that could encroach on their areas of innovation. This monitoring enables action to be taken upstream, either by challenging the validity of these patents on the basis of prior art, or by adapting filing strategies to avoid overlaps and strengthen the company’s position in its key markets.

Understanding competitors’ strategies

Analysing and mapping patents filed by competitors sheds light on their strategic orientations in terms of innovation and intellectual protection. This information makes it possible to identify not only the priority technological areas for competitors, but also their target markets, through a geographical analysis of the protection applied for.

Regular monitoring also enables you to decipher these trends and detect changes in tactics. It enables you to adjust your own R&D and patent filing strategies, to accelerate certain filings or, on the contrary, to opt for another form of protection (Soleau envelope, secret know-how file, etc.).

Crisis management: identify the threat at an early stage and take preventive action

In crisis situations, where a patent application or a competitor’s patent presents a risk to the development or marketing of one of your products or innovations, patent landscaping becomes an essential monitoring tool to try to pre-empt the competitor’s application. The aim is to find evidence of prior art that calls into question the novelty or inventive step of the claims, in order to prevent a pending application from being granted, or to invalidate the patent or reduce its scope.

This requires careful exploration of existing literature, including non-patent literature[2], to demonstrate that the innovation is not as unique as claimed by the patent in question.

It is essential to take these steps as early as possible and to act while the patent application or patent is still pending before a national or regional patent office. Once this period has elapsed, appeals will be exclusively jurisdictional and will be infinitely longer, more complex and more costly.

Read also – Prior art searches and patents: a guide
[2] Non-patent literature includes all public disclosures, in particular from scientific, technical and economic literature, published via any medium such as articles and publications in specialist journals or the general press, conference reports, advertising communications, websites, blogs, etc.

Identifying new areas of patentability

Patent landscaping also helps to identify areas of patentability that have not yet been exploited, revealing new opportunities for innovation and protection. By analysing the gaps in the current patent landscape, companies can direct their R&D towards less congested and strategically promising areas, while securing solid legal protection for their innovations.

Defending the value of a start-up’s portfolio

For a start-up in particular (but in reality this case also applies to SMEs), patent landscaping helps to ensure that any patents on which the start-up’s technology is based remain a real asset.

For an SME, realising that patents filed over time are no longer of strategic interest, because they are completely surrounded by a multitude of other patents, can lead to significant savings that can be reinvested in other R&D areas.

A start-up will also need to prove to future investors the strength of its patent portfolio, and patent landscaping is a very powerful tool for doing this, much appreciated by investors because it provides an objective picture that is easy to verify.

Combating counterfeiting

Finally, patent landscaping plays a major role in the fight against counterfeiting, by helping companies to monitor products and technologies developed by competitors or other market players.

This monitoring makes it possible to detect unauthorised use of patented technologies, giving companies the opportunity to take action (including legal action) to defend their rights, negotiate a licence with the offender or, failing that, seek compensation for the illegal exploitation of their innovations.

How do you create an effective patent landscape when so much information is available?
The limits of traditional approaches…
Traditional patent landscaping methods involve querying a patent database (Espacenet, Orbit, Gridlogics, etc.) using keywords or other search filters.

These techniques face significant limitations given the volume of patents to be reviewed. We are faced with five major challenges:

  1. The colossal and growing volume of patent data far exceeds the processing capacity of manual approaches, making complete and regular analysis impossible.
  2. The diversity and complexity of the data contained in patents requires multi-level analysis, which becomes more difficult as the volume of data increases.
  3. The rapid evolution of the information contained in patent databases means that the patent landscape becomes obsolete very quickly. New filings, extensions, legal status, etc. require constant updating and continuous monitoring.
  4. Traditional methods often lack the flexibility to adapt to the specific needs of each company, limiting the relevance of the insights obtained for innovation and intellectual protection strategy.
  5. Finally, the effective interpretation and visualisation of patent data, essential for rapidly deciphering the competitive landscape and identifying strategic issues, is inadequate in traditional databases. They struggle to offer useful, high-performance datavisualisation tools. And when they do exist, they suffer from a « black box » effect that users cannot live with.

In the absence of useful solutions, traditional methods result either in the under-use of this tool, or in a concentration of searches on very restrictive universes (keywords and other filters), but which can leave out essential weak signals.

In response to these challenges, modern patent landscaping solutions incorporate advanced technologies such as NLP and NLP (automatic language processing), as well as machine learning (ML) and, of course, the now famous LLMs.

They offer real possibilities for carrying out in-depth, personalised and up-to-date analyses of the patent landscape. These tools not only overcome the limitations of traditional methods, but also provide companies with the strategic insights they need to navigate effectively in a competitive environment, strengthening their market position through optimised management of their intellectual property strategy.

Patent landscaping for cutting-edge technologies

Effective mapping of competitors’ patent strategies requires a structured approach and the use of advanced technology intelligence tools, which are essential for guiding strategic innovation decisions.

There are five main stages in this process:

  1. Comprehensive data collection, where a large quantity of patents is collected from global databases, facilitated by automation via specialised software (see those offered by TKM), which speeds up and helps refine the search. The choice of keywords and other search filters can be complex, but TKM’s teams of engineers are there to help you save precious time at this stage.
  2. Semantic and technological analysis: using trusted artificial intelligence trained in your use case or industry, you can process, sort and classify patents according to their content and your needs, and dispatch them to the right internal teams.
  3. Data visualisation and mapping, where the data analysed is presented in the form of various maps illustrating areas of activity, trends, emerging technologies and application markets, and competitors’ strategies.
  4. Continuous monitoring and assessment, involving the dynamic application of these patent map interpretation tasks to anticipate competitors’ actions and regularly update the data for a living, reactive technology watch, coupled with the strategic decision-making process within the company.
  5. Integration into the innovation strategy, where the insights obtained directly influence R&D priorities, the filing of new patents and the marketing strategy.

Automate your patent watch with TKM Software

Automating your patent watch with the tools developed and offered by TKM radically transforms the way your company can access and analyse patent information. This change is based on a unique mix of software and services that combines technical expertise in artificial intelligence, in-depth knowledge of given scientific fields, and competence in reading patent information, offering a complete and integrated solution for intellectual property management.

Scientific expertise and relevant data models

Unlike traditional data providers, TKM enriches TKM Software with trusted AI technical expertise and a team of top scientists to support you as a service when needed.

Our vision of AI is quite simple and pragmatic. A generic AI, i.e. one trained to process patents in fields as varied as chemicals, pharmaceuticals or aeronautics, will quickly reach a ceiling at very low levels of accuracy (the ability of the AI to reproduce the behaviour of experts) compared with the strategic stakes of monitoring (30 to 40%).

This is all the more true because, from one company to another, and even within the same company, from one department to another, the question or task assigned to the AI will be very different. How can a generic AI accurately answer questions as varied as those you might legitimately ask yourself when processing an intelligence feed?

Conversely, the creation of highly relevant machine learning algorithms makes it possible to accurately identify and extract specific information from tens of thousands of patents.

The key to this efficiency lies in specialising a generic AI model to your particular context. Do you have a use case that generic solutions can’t solve? Contact us, we’ll take care of it!

The distinctive advantages of TKM Logiciels

  • Speed and exhaustiveness: IPMetrix responds to watch requests quickly and exhaustively, processing thousands of patents to isolate those that correspond exactly to your search criteria. This level of responsiveness and accuracy ensures that companies can analyse trends and opportunities in detail, eliminating the time and effort spent manually exploring data.
  • Data visualization and mapping tools: IPMetrix’s advanced data visualization and mapping capabilities transform raw data into clear reports and intuitive visualizations. This enables users to quickly grasp the IP patterns and strategies of their competitors, facilitating decision-making and strategic planning.
  • Automatic data segmentation: using machine learning, TKM Logiciels automatically segments collected data according to predefined themes, organising the information to simplify analysis and reveal actionable insights. This functionality enables companies to easily navigate through large volumes of information and detect the most relevant elements for their IP strategy.

With TKM Software, TKM offers a tailored and personalised response to the challenges of intellectual property in today’s competitive environment. By placing your trust in us, you benefit from recognised expertise and cutting-edge technology to find out more about how TKM Logiciels can transform your IP strategy, contact us today!

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