In my post last week, I talked about using competitive intelligence to implement Symbiotic Innovation. The same market research conducted for preliminary screenings to prioritize your technology commercialization opportunities for spin-out can inform your R&D, product development, and spin-in efforts. And vice versa.
Basically, you’re searching for an intersection between technologies and needs, and that traffic flows in both directions.
So what’s the best way to gather the best information about the current intellectual property (IP) landscape so that you can make the best decisions? Here’s what we do at Fuentek when it comes to conducting IP searches:
Begin with the end in mind: Your goal here is to quickly gain insights on the IP landscape so that you can make an informed decision. It is not your job to identify infringement, freedom to operate, or patentability. Leave that to the attorneys.
Consider IP density: This gives you a sense of how unique your technology is (spin-out) and how much technology development is already going on (spin-in). If the technology area is crowded, your spin-out technology must be highly unique to stand out and attract licensing interest. For spin-in projects, high IP density suggests that you’ll have a larger pool of potential partners who might help you address your technical need.
Look for similarities: For spin-in, patent similarity shows how closely existing technologies meet your needs and how many potential options for spin-in exist. For spin-out, patent similarity helps set the value of your technology. If little distinguishes it from prior art, then your technology’s value will decrease.
Build your list of prospects: Put simply, the companies, universities, and government labs that have patents in technology areas related to your spin-out and/or spin-in opportunities are your most likely licensing prospects and partnership candidates for collaborative R&D.
Identify industry experts: For the high-potential opportunities, you’re eventually going to need more than secondary market research. You’re going to need to talk to the experts. Patent assignees and inventors for related technologies might be willing to provide their insights into the shortcomings of the current state of the art and the size and growth potential of related markets.
If you are careful in defining your search criteria and keywords, tapping into appropriate databases, and iterating the searches based on results, your market research will reveal the tech transfer opportunities (both spin-out and spin-in) with the highest potential for success as well as those cases where efforts should be abandoned.