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The Future of Big Data and Intellectual Property


The intellectual property space is becoming increasingly competitive and organizations that create IP have a smaller window than ever before to ensure it is protected and exploited internationally. IP data is suited for big data tools and techniques because of its high volume, high variety, and high velocity of changes. And, IP departments can apply larger data sets and smarter analytics to drive value in the creation and protection of IP.

Simon Webster, CEO at CPA Global, recently sat down with Inside Counsel to discuss how big data tools and technologies can be used in the patent world to drastically improve patent analysis – from how behavioural analysis can reveal the likelihood of patent issuance during prosecution to international IP portfolio management.

Today, big data is important when it comes to IP because it can help better decision making. In fact, up to 85 percent of a company’s value lies in its IP portfolio and it is often a key driver in the most high-profile acquisitions and mergers. Almost every company can improve its efficiency through modern technologies to drive increased insight through big data.

“Companies used to struggle to gain the required insight from data that helped them make better strategic decisions,” he said. “With the availability of on demand computing and storage and the application of artificial intelligence to process vast volumes of data quickly, all businesses are now looking for insight that can help shape company direction.”

For example, a supermarket might analyse sales patterns against the weather to see if certain products are more popular in warmer weather – they can then use this to more accurately manage stock. Companies can gain access to data on around 100 million patents across 100 different jurisdictions. Insight from this data provides the capability for companies and law firms to understand more about who owns which patents.

“If you imagine a world where future research and development direction is shaped by real data about IP strengths and weaknesses within a company, you have some idea how big data can help companies with IP issues,” said Webster.

However, these days, organizations that create IP have a smaller window to ensure it is protected and exploited internationally because of digitization, per Webster. In 1955 the first McDonalds restaurant opened in the U.S and it took 12 years for the company to open its first overseas restaurant. Even then, it was in the nearest country – geographically and culturally – to its home market: Canada. The 12-year time frame provided the brand with plenty of time to establish itself in its home market, plan a strategy of growth and execute. Additionally, Facebook is currently 12 years old – the same age that McDonalds was when it opened its first overseas fast food restaurant. But, Facebook operates in virtually every country, has almost two billion active users and a brand value of more than $50 billion.

“In a digital environment, this timescale is unthinkable – companies and industries are destroyed in a fraction of that time,” he explained. “Every business anywhere in the world is a global business from the moment it has a website. The business environment has sped up and will continue to do so. Businesses therefore must protect their ideas more quickly and effectively on a global basis to gain the maximum benefit from ideas generation.”

IP data can shape investment decisions in research and development, help companies understand their relative strengths and weaknesses against their competitors and enable them to understand more about the potential opportunities in new markets, according to Webster.

“Every industry is facing opportunities and threats from different geographies, adjacent industries and game changing technologies,” said Webster. “Companies have less time to react to this environment. Strategic business planning on an ongoing basis relies on insight into a complex data set of changing information and analytics within IP data sources can help ensure better business decisions.”

Now, the most advanced corporations are combining internal data on their most profitable patents with external data on new markets to understand where opportunities might exist around the globe to launch new products and monetise more of their IP. This helps with business planning and growth strategies as well as managing investment costs of globalising products more efficiently.

“The tools are here today, with further advanced applications being deployed in a matter of months,” he explained. “Companies that are still manually searching for relevant IP information are not only having to deploy resources that are less efficient, they are also missing the critical business insight that comes from connecting disparate data sets.”

These days, the resources available to the IP professional go wider and deeper than ever before and offer the opportunity to make much more informed decisions around their current and future IP portfolio. But, the real transformation comes in the impact that access to relevant data has for how a business grows and develops over time – impacting diverse areas such as investment strategy, global growth and product development.

He added, “The argument for IP Officers to be an integral part of the entire business planning and development process has never been stronger. Armed with insight, driven from internal and external data, analysed effectively, IP professionals can extend their reach beyond the IP department and more fully shape boardroom strategy.”

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