Our Innovate Carolina team met with two experienced experts in market research and patent landscaping to find out more. We spoke with Theo Dingemans, PhD, professor and associate director of the Department of Applied Physical Sciences, and Cindy reifsnider, Director of Research and Impact at Innovate Carolina, to explore the benefits of combining patent landscape analysis and market research.
1. What is the difference between analyzing the patent landscape and market research?
Theo: From my point of view, they go hand in hand. If we are developing a chemistry or technology that we think is new and potentially patentable, we would like to understand what the potential value of our intellectual property (IP) is in the market, and whether we are able to obtain a patent. which potentially has value.
Cindy: Patent Landscape Analysis uses published patent literature as a source of documentation, while market research examines customer / end user data and feedback directly from consumers or through the perspective of professional analysts. The two techniques can bring together technical, usage and positive and negative points of view of ideas, products and services.
2. Are these tools useful for startups, tech, or both?
Cindy: Yes, these are useful tools for both and provide a key input to decision making on how to reach commercialization (start-up or licensing), the key features to look for for novelty or filling a niche for. end users and more. They can save you time and money when you learn that something already exists or that it doesn’t meet the customer’s needs. And they can speed your time to market by showing you the roadmap to novelty or partnerships.
Theo: They are very useful because they will help you know where to go with this new technology. Do you want to take the startup route or does it make more sense to partner with a large or small industrial partner?
3. When is a good time to get started in the patent or market research landscape?
Cindy: It is good to start when you have formed an idea. And it’s also good to iterate later as you reach new stages of development and on the path to commercialization. Different types of questions can be asked and answered at different stages, and the answers are just as helpful.
Theo: Immediately, when you realize that you have a new invention in hand. Is it patentable and is there anyone who might be interested in your technology?
4. Why does it make sense to conduct a patent landscape analysis and market research at the same time?
Cindy: Having both points of view is helpful. One tool can reveal a contribution to the strategy of the other. And sometimes they line up and provide amazing clarity!
5. How have you seen these methods benefit the faculty or your own work?
Cindy: We’re a “long tail” service, so it might take a while, but it’s rewarding to see professors and startups granting patents and bringing a product to market. And sometimes that means a university researcher changes direction as soon as possible.
Theo: I can only speak for myself. I am personally interested in having as wide an impact as possible with my research. I want to publish my research, but if possible, I want my research to make a difference and solve real world problems. So, before we publish, we need to understand the larger context of our work and whether or not we should file for intellectual property protection.
6. What is the difference between analyzing the patent landscape and searching for prior art or freedom to operate patents?
Theo: Analyzing the patent landscape will give you insight into what, when and who owns (or has owned) intellectual property in a certain area. Is there similar intellectual property owned by a large company or has it been abandoned? Is there any intellectual property currently owned by small start-ups, and how successful are they? All of this can help to think about the next steps.
Cindy: Patent landscape analysis is a strategic tool for decision making regarding key features, open spaces in the field of invention and potential partners / competitors. It helps you when you invent. Priority and freedom to operate searches are legal tools that are used when you file for a patent.
7. What are the benefits of having an external perspective on the patent / market landscape for research and intellectual property?
Cindy: Let me quote the published research: “Our results show a positive and significant relationship between the quantity and quality of inventors’ patents and the joint use of scientific and market knowledge, confirming the importance of knowledge external to the company for the innovation activities of companies. . With regard to existing research, we add that the quantity as well as the quality of inventors’ patents benefit from the combination of the two types of external knowledge. In particular, we argue that inventors using knowledge from a wide range of external organizations exploit the characteristics of different types of knowledge that meet different needs of the inventive process. In other words, they merge the technological and scientific potential arising from scientific knowledge with the practical and technical support arising from market knowledge. In addition, the independent use of scientific and commercial knowledge is also an important explanatory factor of the performance of inventors, thus showing positive feedback on scientific and technical knowledge, according to Mohammadi and Franzoni (2014). “
Scandura, A. The role of scientific and market knowledge in the inventive process: testimony from a survey of industrial inventors. J Transf Technology 44, 1029-1069 (2019).
8. What are the advantages for faculty of having a team of specialists to help with patent analysis and market research, compared to DIY?
Cindy: We help professors focus on what they do best, which is researching a topic. We bring our knowledge and experience in patent analysis and market research in partnership with faculty, saving them time and distilling (and sometimes translating) this data into tangible, easy-to-use reports.
Theo: It is always good to have additional expert eyes and broaden your understanding of the patent landscape and potential market opportunities. This work takes time and is not easy. You need people who have experience in this research.