Patents As Financial Assets: A Gestalt View of Building Them Up

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Consider the above example of FIG. Suppose that the corporation has two products on the market, Product A and Product B. The corporation has 5 patents that map to Product A, and 3 patents that map to Product B. According to this scenario, the user will conclude that the corporation is potentially seeking greater patent protection than the industry benchmark with respect to its technology. Consider, now, the scenario where the user analyzes the data with regard to groups, in this case a first group composed of patents that map to Product A, and a second group composed of patents that map to Product B.

According to this scenario, the user will conclude that the corporation is potentially devoting too much of its patent-related resources with respect to its technology related to Product A it is "overpatenting" technology related to Product A , and potentially devoting too little of its patent-related resources with respect to its technology related to Product B it is "underpatenting" technology related to Product B.

In addition, an analysis of the patents relative to a product may indicate that the core features or technology of the product are not patented and, thus, could be freely and legally copied by a competitor. This could adversely affect the product's price floor and revenue stream. With this information in hand, the company could then take steps to more comprehensively patent its technology or make a conscious and knowledgeable decision to not seek further patent protection.

Without group-oriented processing of the patents related to the product, this information is unavailable.

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Without this information, the company is more likely to make unwise and costly business decisions. As indicated by the above example, group-oriented processing yields information on a scale whose granularity is defined by the definition of the group. The information produced by group-oriented processing is specific to the patents in the group. Accordingly, as with the above example, group-oriented processing is often more useful and more illuminating than non-group-processing.

Also, the invention supports hierarchically structured groups.

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The invention, in performing a function requested by the operator, may identify a particular group. Such identification of this group may yield very useful information, as apparent from the above example. As noted above, according to the present invention, processing of the patent information is conducted with consideration of other information , , , , , called non-patent information.

The process of assigning patents to groups is an example of processing patent information with non-patent information. This is the case, because groups are often created according to non-patent considerations.

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Accordingly, any subsequent processing of the patents in a group involve, by definition, non-patent considerations. For example, the customer may create groups to represent its products. In this case, the groups are created according to the customer's production information. In another example, the customer may create groups to represent persons of interest. In this case, the groups are created according to HR human resources information.

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In another example, the customer may create groups to represent its competitors. In this case, the groups are created according to business information or practices. In another example, the customer may create groups based on its future products or feature requirement. All of these groups are created based on or in consideration of non-patent information, not patent information. Accordingly, any subsequent group processing of the patents contained in any of these groups represents, by definition, processing of the patent information with consideration of, or in conjunction with, or based on non-patent information , , , , This is the case, even if such subsequent group processing involves only, for example, patent bibliographic information i.

A group may also contain non-patent documents. In fact, a group may contain only non-patent documents. Accordingly, a group is more generally defined as a collection of documents such as patent documents only, non-patent documents only, or a combination of patent and non-patent documents. The documents in a group typically follow a common theme or characteristic although this is not a mandatory requirement of groups.

Referring to FIG.

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Accordingly, the processing performed by the present invention is more generally described as being document-centric and group-oriented. The terms "database" and "table" are used synonymously herein. An enterprise server accesses and processes the information in the databases In particular, the enterprise server includes modules that are capable of automatically accessing and processing the information in the databases in a patent-centric or document-centric and group-oriented manner.

These modules are also capable of automatically accessing and processing the information in the databases on a patent by patent basis "one patent at a time". The enterprise server may be a single physical server, or may be a hierarchy of multiple servers , , , An example of this multiple server embodiment is illustrated in FIG. A given client , may also connect to one or multiple servers. The system preferably includes two types of clients, network clients and web clients These clients , , pursuant to instructions from human operators or users not shown , interact with the enterprise server to access and process the information in the databases For example, the clients , may request that the enterprise server retrieve certain information, or automatically analyze certain information.

The enterprise server performs the requested tasks, and sends the results to the requesting clients , The clients , present these results to their respective operators, and enable the operators to process the results. Clients , may also perform additional processing of data, such as creating a visualization of the data obtained from the enterprise server Generally speaking, the network clients preferably communicate with the enterprise server using the enterprise server 's natural language, which is called the enterprise server API described in detail below.

Accordingly, the network clients communicate directly with the enterprise server via a communication network , which is preferably a network that uses the well known HTTP hypertext transport protocol. Other protocols could alternatively be used. This network may be of any size, such as but not limited to a local area network or a wide area network it can even be a global network. The web clients do not preferably utilize the enterprise server 's natural language. Accordingly, the web clients communicate with the enterprise server via a web server , which translates between the language of the web clients and the language of the enterprise server This translation is described below.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the components of the present invention shown in FIG. The computer can be any commercially available and well known computer capable of performing the functions described herein, such as computers available from International Business Machines, Apple, Silicon Graphics Inc. The computer includes one or more processors also called central processing units, or CPUs , such as a processor The processor is connected to a communication bus The computer also includes a main or primary memory , preferably random access memory RAM.

The primary memory has stored therein control logic computer software , and data The computer also includes one or more secondary storage devices The removable storage drive represents a floppy disk drive, a magnetic tape drive, a compact disk drive, an optical storage device, tape backup, ZIP drive, JAZZ drive, etc. The removable storage drive interacts with a removable storage unit Program storage devices or computer program products also include any device in which computer programs can be stored, such as hard drives.

In an embodiment, the present invention is directed to computer program products or program storage devices having software that enables the computer to perform any combination of the functions described herein. Such computer programs, when executed, enable the computer to perform the functions of the present invention as discussed herein. In particular, the computer programs, when executed, enable the processor to perform the functions of the present invention.


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Accordingly, such computer programs represent controllers of the computer The modules of the invention discussed herein, such as the grouping module , the analysis modules , etc. The computer also includes a display unit , such as a computer monitor, and one or more input devices , such as a keyboard, a mouse, other pointing devices such as a light pen and trackball , etc. The computer further includes a communication or network interface The network interface enables the computer to communicate over communication networks, such as networks and , which preferably use the well known HTTP communication protocol.

The components of the invention shown in FIG. It should be understood that any specific software, hardware, or operating system implementations described herein are provided for purposes of illustration, and not limitation. The invention can work with software, hardware, and operating system implementations other than those described herein.

Any software, hardware, and operating system implementations suitable for performing the functions described herein can be used. Preferably, the system is adapted for use by a particular customer. Typically, the customer is a corporate entity. Accordingly, the customer is also called herein the customer corporate entity. It should be understood, however, that the customer can be any organization or individual, such as an academic institution, a research organization, a non-profit or for-profit organization, or any person.

Generally, the customer is any entity having an interest in patents. The customer is an entity such as a company that has arranged to have use of the system by purchasing, leasing, or renting the system , for example. The databases and data contained therein are specific to the customer.

Also, the methodology functions supported by the enterprise server may be specialized or augmented to meet the needs of the customer. Implementation and use of the present invention may involve a number of persons associated with the customer corporate entity, such as employees, consultants, associates, and persons retained by the customer, such as attorneys. When interacting with the invention, these people are called operators or users. Table 1 lists some of such persons and their respective responsibilities according to an embodiment of the invention.

These persons may be involved in all aspects of the invention for the customer, or may be involved in only some phases of the invention for the customer, such as the extract and load of the databases In the discussion contained herein, reference is often made to a user or an operator associated with the customer. It should be understood that the terms "user" and "operator" are synonymous, and refer to one or more persons from Table 1.

Technical Personnel Analysis of patents and how they relate to given product functions and features. According to the present invention, the databases store document information that includes patent information and information pertinent to the analysis of the document information. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the particular database embodiment of FIG.

Instead, the invention is adapted and intended to cover other database structures and organizations that are capable of storing document information and information pertinent to the analysis of the document information. The particular information that is stored in the databases is implementation dependent and varies based on a number of factors, including the type of analysis that is desired, the specific needs of the customer, the type and content of the information that the customer maintains, etc.

The databases of FIG. These functions and features generically called methodology functions and features are described in sections below. Many of the databases , such as the BOM databases , the inventor databases , and corporate entity databases , the financial databases , the person databases , and the employee databases , are initially loaded using information provided by the customer.


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  • After initial loading, these databases are updated as necessary to reflect changes in the customer's information. Other information, such as information for the patent bibliographic databases and the patent database , may be loaded using information provided by a third party provider, such as a third party provider that specializes in the provision of patent information in electronic form.

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    One such third party provider is SmartPatents Inc. The patent bibliographic databases may be periodically updated through a subscription service from such third party providers. Similarly, the patent database may be augmented through as-needed orders to the third party providers. It should be understood that the present invention works equally well with data provided by any party as long as the data's format matches the formats of the patent bibliographic databases and the patent database The document databases preferably include electronic representations of documents of interest to the customer.

    The document databases represent the customer's repository of documents, and are thus also called the customer's document repository.

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