IP (Intellectual Property): Means to Enhance Performance factors (Cost, Quality & Speed) in R&D

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In India, there is a growing awareness that Innovation, whether incremental or radical breakthroughs, is key to being competitive in the globalized economy and Intellectual property (IP) is one of the yard sticks to measure the output in the form of patents, trademarks, Industrial designs etc. Many large establishments are now in the process of establishing or are in the process of initiating the IP culture. The scenario in majority of the research laboratories, universities (barring CSIR, IITs and few other Institutes) and Industry, especially, SMEs (small and medium scale enterprises) which contribute to almost 40% towards Indian economy, however, is poor. Although the prime reason is the lack of awareness, the important missing link is in the form of shortage of clarity in the curriculum relating to the spread of awareness itself; mere mention of what it refers to and how important it is does not suffice. In other words, lack of adequate information or misinformation often results in the beginners possessing IP building capability developing wrong perceptions in that, (i) IP generation involves high costs, (ii) the process is time consuming and complex, (iii) the system involves legal hassles, and (iv) other means of protection, currently preferred, may be a better option. With the growing intense competition in the international as well as domestic trade, the value of patent information supplemented with market and business information (shortened with the tag “PIMIBI”) becomes more obvious at least to those who are forced to compete in order to maintain and improve their position in the marketplace. PIMIBI helps (a) avoid costly duplication of effort in R&D of ideas already developed, (b) helps solve technical problems, (c) helps connect authentic providers of technology and (d) provides enterprises an opportunity to look for new areas to explore. In the present scenario, an evidently big gap is in the form of lack of availability of specialists at individual levels or service providers who have models to communicate and diffuse the misconceptions on one hand and help guide the means to extract the best for the prevailing problems on the other hand. Thinking of the end result in the form of generating IP should be the last but important resort. For enterprises at all scales, the key concern revolves around three performance factors (a) Cost, (b) Quality and (c) Speed. It’s logical that tinkering with only one corner of the magic triangle of cost, quality and speed in the context of effective business offering products or services would only result in a compromised and inferior result as all three factors are inter-related. SciTech Patent Art Services, an IP Consulting firm, located in Hyderabad, with seven years of service offerings to wide range of end users worldwide comprising Fortune 500, Research laboratories, Law firms, Universities has evolved with a unique model to address the local needs (Indian companies, Universities and research laboratories) in

the context of extending research support, providing gaps / opportunities to develop technologies / patent portfolio and facilitate technology transfer or upgradation through its network of expert connections. The paper highlights the broad steps involved in the concept (based on PIMIBI and network of experts) to deliver solutions keeping the performance factors (cost, quality and speed) in view. The paper will be support with a couple of case studies.

Introduction
The best quality products or services world over is a result of the best processes employed. The current context is the patent analysis (PA), one of the major segments of intellectual property (IP), which refers to investigating relationships and trends. PA is the means through which researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, universities, commercial enterprises (small, medium & large) and patent professionals achieve business objectives. The analysis is carried out at macrolevel and micro-level to address the following requirements: • • Evaluating Innovations Building, Managing, Commercializing IP Investigating Technology Intelligence for finding opportunities

It is an established fact that majority involved in R&D do not access patent literature which contributes to ~70% of the literature disclosing true technologies invented world over. The reasons that can be attributed particularity to Universities and SMEs for treating this segment as an alien include: a) b) c) d) e) Lack of awareness Involves cost Needs expertise Notion that it is costly and complex Choosing other means of protecting IP, if any,

While patent literature may suffice to provide one a roadmap for planning R&D, patent analysis in conjunction with market and business intelligence would help the researchers, technology developers and users find asses the true state of the art of a technology in addition to finding potential parties either for offering or seeking technical solutions in the form of products or processes. PA is also a strong means to avoid duplication of efforts, especially, in projects involving major resources in terms of time, money and effort. This boils down to the role of a patent analyst or a company offering such services playing a significant role in that one needs to perform the PA related tasks in a manner that every bit of relevant information extracted (quality) is in a short period of time making it cost effective (a function of time and cost). The purpose of this paper is to highlight the attributes that affect patent analysis measured in terms of quality and cost incurred, and these factors are important for the service provider as well as the end individual user, especially, Universities and SMEs. Understanding and assessing the dependency of factors such as quality (refers to information highly relevant to the end user) and cost, requires interpretation of the attributes associated with each of the workflow steps involved in PA. These are as listed below: • •

• •

Query (Scope) Search (Databases and search efficiency) Analysis (Broad or in-depth, field selection, relevancy and crispness) IP Report (format, content, insights through interpretation )

Query
Whether the query relating to IP is from an independent inventor or an enterprise, a project’s economics depends on how much in tandem the IP analyst and the end user are, in terms of understanding the basic objectives. The success of IP projects may be labeled as (a) somewhat useful or (b) highly useful, depending on either the failure to retrieve the relevant information and/or failure to capture it and interpret the insights. Few attributes that can make or break an IP project include:

1. End user’s knowledge of IP (may range from very minimal to advanced levels) 2. Analyst’s knowledge of IP along with knowledge of specific technology area 3. Ability to communicate the gaps in scope by the parties involved in (a) & (b) The above three factors could affect both quality and time (hence cost) as these factors might define a query either too broad or too narrow which in turn would have a bearing on the subsequent search and analysis. Lack of awareness from a business perspective may additionally contribute to defining the scope inappropriately.

Search
The scope of search is a function of the final objective in terms of utilizing the results and an effective quick retrieval of the same are dependent upon: 1. Interaction between the searcher and the domain expert leading to correct identification of concepts, keywords and their synonyms. 2. The searcher’s search skills and familiarity with different databases Search restricted only to few known databases often results in incomplete information and leads to spending time not worthy of uncertainty. This calls for a caution on behalf of the end user either being familiar with the coverage by different databases or better yet is to assign the job to a service provider

Analysis
Patent search invariably results in large number of records screening is carried out to end up with relevant data. This requires usage of program based tools, if need arises. Based on the size of the data retrieved against a query, the analysts need to judge whether or not to apply a tool or perform manual screening. For example, for a technology landscaping, when a large set of search results are to be screened, followed by grouping of results, one needs to decide on utilizing a tool. However, this tool either supplied by external vendor or built in-house, has to be thoroughly standardized and validated.

In short, the ability of the patent analyst to understand the technology in the context of criteria that is set for defining relevancy would allow one to judge what method or tool should be utilized. The end user would then have a chance to fit it into his or her budget provided the scope gets refined with a couple of reviews of the preliminary results. Beyond a broader perspective, analysis demands manual intervention of higher order. If what is needed is to identify a small gap or opportunity, it would demand an equal level of accuracy in identifying aspects and their interpretation. One of the major factors that can significantly influence the economics of a project is the decision on the depth of analysis. Accurate analysis more often than not is descriptive and to bring it to a state of reasonable crispness either requires one to be an expert in the domain field or spend more time during analysis. Overall, the cost and quality of an IP project are strongly dependent on the level of analysis; that is, high level or in-depth. This, in turn, is dependent upon the objective of the end user. The subsequent factors that may influence the quality and cost depend on the size of the data set, the level and frequency of interaction between the analyst and the end user.

IP Report
From the perspective of end user, the quality of report will depend on what research / business decisions it leads to. Mapping is a way to interpret results from patent analysis through generation of graphs (2D, 3D, Venn diagrams etc.), tables (including matrix tables) and others such as bubble graphs. Quality maps are those that help the end user interpret information in such a way that each of the questions are answered in addition to learning more than what is anticipated. For this to happen, it is imperative that the data analyzed is transformed into meaningful information that would help the end user gain knowledge. The value of the report is high when it is used as a basis to exploit opportunities in more than one way. There may be many variables to interpret during mapping and generating a report; however, sticking to the ones that provide best insights should be the primary goal. The end customer may want to redo certain portions at an additional cost; An IP report generation is similar to carrying out R&D experiment and optimizing conditions for the best output in terms of time and cost. Prior to generation of an IP report, the following questions need to be asked to oneself


• •

• •

For whom is it meant for? What should be the content? What should be the format? Does it answer the end user’s questions or meet the objectives? Does it cover information and NOT just Data?

Patent Analytics for Universities and SMEs
For an Indian University and/or an SME, the need for patent search and analysis will be more in the context of identification of potential topics for research, ensuring the uniqueness of a project in the sense of not duplicating

it, assessing patentability of on-going or past work and finding opportunities to commercialize

It is important to distinguish the differences in technological requirements, if any, amongst the Universities, SMEs and other enterprises. Current knowledge indicates that the first two segments in general are zero-to-minimum and large enterprises average-to-maximum when it comes to any IP activities. This then calls for a basis to answer the following questions:

1. Is the approach (patent analytics) adopted for Universities /SMEs is different as 2. Are the charges for IP services different for Universities/SMEs?
The answers to question 1 and question 2 are yes and no respectively indicting that it is situational and depends on the nature of requests, the size and frequency. With quality being the same, the cost does favor Universities and SMEs. compared to large enterprises?

In conclusion, patent analytics along with non-patent literature being the means to exploit opportunities or stay away from hassles either from individuals or from an enterprise, the best results evolve from the quality of the resources and the models that are built with flexibility to adapt to multiple situations. It is the ability to apply analytical skills as well as judgment appropriate to a particular request that can help generate quality output in a cost effective manner. SPA has built a basis to address the concerns of
Universities and SMEs that IP generation is complex, costly and involves legal hassles. Both the segments even have incentives provided by the government agencies and non-utilization of such opportunities only points to a different issue and that on a large scale is mind set. Appropriate case studies supporting the methodology would be presented.

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