How to simplify IP for R&D

In this blog post, Dolly Manish Mathews describes the perpetual challenge of synchronizing Intellectual property (IP) and R&D to effectively advance the company’s product development goals. Throughout the different stages of product development, it’s critical that the IP team finds creative ways to make IP reachable and relatable to the R&D team for collaboration. We detail two effective approaches here: Problem Solution Application Approach (PSA) and Product to Patent Mapping, correlating IP with the commercialized product. 

Intellectual property (IP) and R&D are like wings that need to be synchronized for a company’s successful flight. However, these two departments often function separately and have difficulty collaborating effectively. There are a few obvious reasons for this lack of coordination:

  1. Motive: While the R&D team often focuses on identifying the best possible solution for a technical challenge, the IP team prioritizes the legal issues and challenges. If both teams feel their own motive is more important than the other, they may be reluctant to share information.
  2. Terminology and communication: R&D teams use technical jargon while IP has its own terminology around legal protection and boundaries. This language barrier can hinder effective collaboration and communication.
  3. Working in silos: Often the two departments are siloed. This leads to lack of interaction, confusion and misalignment. The above-mentioned factors also make the communication between the two departments difficult as the motive seems different when the terminology used is not in-sync.

Integrating the IP team into the R&D team 

Most companies believe they will increase team collaboration by integrating the patent department within the R&D segment. This may increase the communication between the two departments, and in the best-case scenarios, will result in better patent portfolio with more legal protection of technologies and innovations. By integrating within the R&D department, the IP manager may become more aware of new ideas as they pop up, or be more attuned to the status of on-going research.

However, this still may not satisfy the R&D scientists, as they are hardly convinced their IP colleagues understand their perspective when IP managers reject their “new idea” or a new product’s development is stalled based on the IP team’s report. In this situation, R&D may see IP as a threat to their innovation, not as an asset.

How can IP and R&D increase collaboration?

The IP team will have to find creative ways to make IP reachable and relatable to the R&D team. This is an ongoing exercise and is required at different stages of product development. This is especially important at the idea generation stage, which is one of the most difficult and time-intensive activities.

To keep the R&D team abreast with the latest developments and prevent reinventing the wheel, the IP team usually adopts the following methods:

  1. Employing Technology Alerts—To increase IP’s accessibility for R&D, setting up a technology alerts allows the R&D team to view patents that are published each week or month. 

    • CHALLENGES FACED BY R&D
      • Alerts may be difficult to understand 
      • Alerts may be time-consuming 
      • Many patents are not relevant to R&D’s current research theme 
      • R&D may not have sufficient time to read and review
  2. Providing an IP landscape—In an attempt to make IP relatable, the IP team takes the pain of compiling all the relevant documents in a specific technology domain, analyzed in detail to share with the R&D team. 

    • CHALLENGES FACED BY R&D
      • Reports may still be difficult to understand
      • An IP Landscape may require a lot of reading to understand the problem describes and the associated solution

In IP Service World blog post, my colleague Simon Carr, has explained in detail how to control and reduce IP risks through the research and development process and engage R&D in the process. 

The question remains: How can we simplify this process? 

At Evalueserve, we constantly shape complex IP data into relatable technical concepts. Our twenty years of experience in various domains and type of searches enables us to find technically sensible, easy to interpret and visually appealing ways of representing complex data obtained from patents.

We detail two effective approaches below. One is the Problem Solution Application Approach (PSA). The other approach is Product to Patent Mapping, correlating IP with the commercialized product.

PSA Approach (Problem Solution Application Approach) 

Patent documents are written in a very complex way. If one relies only on the title, abstract or claims, they may never truly understand the invention, the problem it solves or for that matter the application that the invention can be applied to. Evalueserve’s PSA Approach bridges this gap by breaking down search objectives into three logical variables: the application, the problem and the solution. The result is an approach based on a clear perspective of the questions R&D and IP teams want to answer.

Evalueserve’s experts understand the technical challenges that R&D scientists face. By keeping these technical challenges in mind, Evalueserve’s experts read and analyze each patent document in detail to derive the problem addressed and the solution provided. With our experience and technical knowledge, we connect the problem defined in the patent document to a technical challenge that is faced during product development. This makes it very easy for an R&D scientist to understand the innovation. With this deeper understanding of client needs, Evalueserve delivers only the most relevant documents in a simple, easy to understand and visually appealing manner, thus saving R&D and IP teams’ time. This allows for a deeper dive into the specific technical challenge, instead of looking into everything that is available in that domain.

We also provide a problem-solution matrix which helps to identify other solutions which may be solving the same problem. 

Problem-Solution Matrix

The PSA Approach is used within Evalueserve with great success. In addition to using this approach in the detailed analysis of patent documents, we also have devised a propriety method to utilize the PSA approach for formulating search strategies. This helps to build search queries based on a clear perspective of the question that we want to answer, and controls recall. Read more about this approach in our blog post, “The full palette of search queries – how to control recall with a smart query strategy by Ashutosh Pande.

Correlating IP with commercialized product/Product to Patent Mapping

Many of our clients appreciate the connections we derive between the innovation described in a patent to market activity (as a product or news item). The Product to Patent Mapping feature enables an R&D scientist to see the tangible form of patents and understand it in more detail. This type of mapping also helps the IP team to derive their own conclusions in legal terms.

Mapping an invention to its corresponding product or news in the market requires in-depth analysis of patent specification, as well as a comparison with the marketed product and news. The example below for Pure Leaf Tea shows how excerpts from the patent specification (EP2747580B1) are mapped to the product ingredient to derive a correlation between patent and marketed product. 

Product to Patent Mapping

In this blog post, we described two techniques to make IP interpretation simple, more meaningful and relatable for R&D teams. These are not the only solutions. In future blog posts we will talk more about how IP managers or R&D scientists can unravel the impact of IP, both from a technology and competitor standpoint. Stay connected to learn more!

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Dolly Mathews
Group Manager, IP and R&D Solutions Posts

Dolly Manish Mathews is the Group Manager, IP and R&D Solutions at Evalueserve. She leads the food science and technology group where she strives to distill complex information into its simple form in a visually appealing manner. Dolly enjoys the challenge of gathering technology or competitor intelligence from various sources and plotting them as actionable insights.

As a trained western music vocalist from Trinity School of Music, London, Dolly has a powerful voice. She also enjoys sharing her writer’s voice here on the Information Adventurers blog, where she expresses thought- provoking ideas and solutions in Intellectual Property. She loves to connect to the blog audience and encourages you to share questions and comments about your IP challenges and needs.

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