Gaining the Competitive Edge with Patent Information – Reporting from PATINEX 2014 in Seoul, South Korea

Speakers at PATINEX 2014 - Click to Enlarge

Speakers at PATINEX 2014 – Click to Enlarge

I recently wrote about the panel I moderated, and spoke at during IP Week in Singapore, and mentioned how impressed I was with the level of importance patent analysis and valuation related issues were being assigned by business leaders in that country. During the same trip I also had the honor of being invited to speak in Seoul, South Korea at the 10th PATINEX meeting where the theme of the conference was gaining a competitive edge with patent information. Building on the general theme I have seen in Asian countries that patent strategy issues are critical business imperatives the meeting stressed the critical nature of patent information to business success, especially in the current environment of increased risks of litigation, and the need for developing the ability to negotiate cross-licensing agreements.

With the current anti-patent political climate in the US it has been refreshing to travel abroad, and see the increased investment and focus that is being given to patent protection, and strategy in other countries. I remarked previously that it is also exciting to see the leaders of the world’s largest patent offices talk about the strategic value of patent information, such as when EPO President Benoît Battistell said that, “Patent information is a top priority for the EPO”. Similar statements were made during PATINEX when the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) Commissioner Youngmin Kim provided several business instances of where patent analysis provided high value to companies developing their business strategies. KIPO is reinforcing this belief by providing patent analysis services for SMEs in Korea, and is even going so far as to proving startup companies with free access to patent information for a limited time during their initiation.

The full list of speakers, with biographies and abstracts can be found on the PATINEX program page, but what follows are notes I took during some of the presentations scheduled over the course of the two-day event.

Keynote Speaker – Minhwa Lee – Professor at KAIST

  • Korean began by being a very efficient fast follower, but has transitioned into an innovator who is building markets and demanding higher margins.
  • There is a connection between IP, and the development of customer relations. Companies that own the IP associated with consumer benefits, and differentiation are in the strongest position from a business perspective.
  • Companies with IP as a core competency are more valuable than those that trade on technology alone.
  • Suggested that entrepreneur education become mandatory in Korea since the venture companies are the ones that are driving job creation in the region. Korea has a lot of startups but many are started by retirees as opposed to young people. Young people are more likely to start an innovative startup compared to older entrepreneurs.

 Mengbin Wen – Huawei IPR Director

  • Huawei uses their portfolio to help them when it comes to negotiation with competitors and suppliers.
  • They participate fully in standard bodies, and share their IP with others through standards.
  • Huawei has a management system for tracking their licensing, use in products, invalidity, and use in standards so they have a market based view of which patents are valuable, and are being used.
  • Engineers joining the company are assigned to patent departments, and must learn how to do patent searching. Patent searching is done in close collaboration with the R&D teams.

Jaeil Park – Director, Information Utilization Division, KIPOKIPO

  • Korean government moving to Gov 3.0, which advocates the open use, and commercial application of government data including patents.
  • This is causing a significant increase in the number of API calls, searches, and number of companies that are using patent data. It also allows other organizations to build new products on top of KIPO data, and KIPRIS plus.
  • Developing product codes that are based on Nice classification, and Korean Product similarity code to link financial data with the corresponding patent data.
  • Open APIs provided since 2014 will be available free of charge including legal status, and other patent related information.
  • Developing an IP-Biz service which connects patents and business data together for public use and for enabling patent analysis.
  • Creating a patent information utilization division including the patent information utilization center which involves the patent office, government, university and corporate users to ensure that patent information is used for the benefit of the Korean public.

As mentioned in my previous blog post I spoke on the business implications of patent analytics and the development of patent strategies for supporting organizational goals and objectives. A full-report of my presentation can be found here, and a picture from the presentation is provided below:

Presenting at PATINEX 2014 in Seoul - Click to Enlarge

Presenting at PATINEX 2014 in Seoul – Click to Enlarge

Robert Stewart – Former Chief Counsel IP, NYSE Euronet

  • Litigation has brought a lot of attention to the patent world, which has brought a lot of interest to the idea of patent valuation.
  • Quantitative measures are good to pair down a large collection of patents, but then qualitative measures have to be used to put together a more detailed valuation.
  • Provided a list of reasons for why an organization would want to value their patents, or the patents of their competitors. Essentially it comes down to whether patents are core to the business, or if they are ancillary to the business, unless they are important to competitors.

Dingho Lee – Samsung Display

  • Samsung monitors their competitors very closely, and conducts patent analytics in more than a 100 areas that they are interested in.
  • They have an IP roadmap covering licensing, various IP management situations, and Samsung’s competitors, and how the company is going to respond to them by buying, or invalidating patents.
  • Samsung appears to have a well-developed internal patent analysis tool that provides a variety of important metrics that they use to develop their IP, and technology road maps.
  • Key inventors identified by patent analysis are often offered employment with the company to avoid future issues them.
  • Using citing patent landscaping with Thomson Reuter’s ThemeScape tool they analyzing the patents that are citing Samsung patents in new documents, and look at how their technology is being reapplied, and by whom. This technique has been used extensively within Samsung.
  • They are constantly reevaluating their portfolio, and value their patents so they can do what they need to make certain these innovations are strongly protected.
  • All new technology projects are evaluated using patent analytics before they are initiated.

Samsung Display’s vision – To be the most respected company in the IP arena.

Samsung is arguably the world’s best company when it comes to developing patent strategies, and making them a key component of their overall business objectives, and tactics. Getting a first hand view of how they incorporate patent analytics into their business practices was one of the highlights of the meeting.

PATINEX 2014 was an extraordinary event, and again I was honored to join such a distinguished collection of speakers talking about the importance of patent information, analytics, and strategy to the overall business success of organizations of all shapes, and sizes. The event was also well attended, and it is clear that many Korean businesses would like to follow the successful models of established Korean companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai in leveraging patents to provide them with a competitive advantage.

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