Navigating Patent White-Space for Growth
By Mamata Saha
According to zendesk.com, the generic definition of White Space Analysis is, “The process companies use to evaluate their existing products, services, and markets to address unmet customer needs.” Essentially, the term ‘space’ refers to the area that has remained untapped and should be explored to achieve success in business. We could also use the word ‘gap’ to refer to the space that finds areas of opportunity and contributes to the company’s development.
On the other hand, if we look at White-Space Analysis from the perspective of the patent industry, it is an innovation technique that involves patent landscaping in the initial stages. It’s also worth noting that the analysis includes the following points:
- It consists of finding innovation holes or gaps that need to be filled for a technical area of interest.
- The intent is to find an area that’ll serve as a commercially viable product worth investing in.
White-Space Analysis: What can it reveal?
White-Space Analysis serves several purposes that include gap-finding in technology, resource allocation, trend recognition, and customer need fulfillment. Each aspect reveals something crucial about inventions, technologies, patents, and trends, and serves as an important learning experience.
- Finding technology gaps: White-Space Analysis can help you find gaps in patented technologies either within your company or across the industry, not to mention other industries.
- Allocating Resources: Any areas of invention that haven’t been explored before deserve more time and attention. To make them patentable and marketable, it’s important to assign resources such as time, budget, talent, among others, to them.
- Fulfilling customer requirements: While there may be many reasons why organizations pursue innovations, the primary one is to make them commercially viable and profitable. And that’s only possible when the product works for customers. White-Space analysis has a way of letting researchers and inventors know that customers have unfulfilled needs.
- Recognizing trends: White-Space Analysis helps companies in identifying gaps within the technology landscapes of current industries as well as in identifying completely new industries, if they’re willing to step out of their comfort zone and explore areas different from their core areas of strength.
White-Space Analysis: Relecura’s AI tools and solutions
With several patent and innovation-related problems solvable, with Relecura’s AI-powered tools, White-Space Analysis isn’t an exception. So, how does it work? With the help of Relecura’s Taxonomy Builder. Data asset management is an extremely challenging task because there is a multitude of technologies and sub-technologies to deal with. The highly advanced AI tool works to categorize documents or technologies into groups with bite-sized chunks of data available for analysis and decision-making.
The tool presents the information generated in the form of a branched-out tree exhibiting the technologies, sub-technologies and the patent document count for each. Clicking on a particular node of interest throws up the patent numbers related to the technology, while also revealing the publication trend.
To dig a little deeper into what the analysis entails, let’s consider an example. Let’s say you want to compare the patent portfolios concerning the Internet of Things (IoT) for three multinationals, namely Samsung, Apple, and Google. Taxonomy Builder offers you the opportunity to map multiple companies and compare their data once you’ve saved the taxonomy tree. The tree view shows you the core technology, sub-technology, and most importantly, the patent document count of each of the organizations being mapped. The analysis highlights the areas of opportunity or gaps specific to a technology or sub-technology for every company. It might be easier to follow the discussion through the following images.
The first image refers to the document count for Data Transmission (sub-technology) and Cryptographics for secret digital communication (a subpart of Data Transmission). What you may have observed is that for Network Security Protocols (a subpart of Cryptographics), Apple has no patents, while for Key Distribution or Management (another subpart), Google has zero patents. In a word, these are the white spaces for these companies that they can take the time to explore.
In the second image below, we’re looking at another technology, Wireless Communication Networks and sub-technology, Security arrangements, Authentication, Protecting Privacy for Wireless Communication. In terms of white spaces, if we look at the last level of Security Arrangements i.e., Protecting Privacy or Anonymity, it’s easy to guess that both Apple and Google need to tap into this area and invest in patents to keep pace with Samsung. May we also add here that Key Management, on level 2 of Security Arrangements, is an area Google needs to explore well.
In a world of continuously evolving markets and cut-throat competition, the concept of staying relevant and standing apart can’t be stressed enough. Therefore, it’s critical for organizations and industries to make White-Space Analysis an integral part of their business strategy and ensure that they use the analysis with regularity, to be able to deal with constantly changing times.