It was my great pleasure last week (August 26-28th) to participate in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Regional Workshop on Patent Analytics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, jointly organized by the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), the Brazilian Patent Office. It was the first of two workshops held in conjunction with the Guidelines for the Preparation of Patent Landscape Reports (PLRs) project that WIPO initiated at the beginning of the year. More than 150 representatives from over a half-dozen Latin American countries were present during the three-day event, which featured presentations from WIPO, INPI representatives, and participants from the other patent offices in attendance. Perspectives from the commercial sector were also provided by Mr. Gerhard Fischer, from Syngenta, and by myself.
The Guidelines are being developed in the context of the Development Agenda project “Developing Tools for Access to Patent Information” (DA_19_30_31_02), in particular phase II of the project that was approved by the Committee for Development and Intellectual Property at its tenth session from November 12 to November 16, 2012.
WIPO has recognized for some time that PLRs are increasingly being used to inform public policy decisions, and that patent information provides valuable scientific insight. As early as 2008 WIPO has been working to develop capabilities in this regard, and promote the practice of creating PLRs. The stated goals of a WIPO symposium, in cooperation with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on Public Policy Patent Landscaping in the Life Sciences, provided an explanation of how PLRs can be used as instruments to inform public policy makers as they look to tackle technological issues.
The Symposium draws together two important trends:
Patent information as a tool of public policy: Policymakers who deal with innovation and access in the life sciences – concerned with agriculture and food security; public health and pharmaceuticals; and environmental issues – have increasingly focused on the patent system. They look for clearer, more accessible and geographically more representative information to support key policy processes. They seek a stronger empirical basis for their assessments on the role and impact of the patent system in relation to key areas of life sciences technology.
Improved analytical tools and access to patent information: Rapid growth in the use of the patent system, and in the diversity of users, has led to an explosion of raw data on patenting activities in the life sciences. This data is progressively being turned into useful information. Availability and quality of patent information have increased. Analytical tools and methodologies are better understood and are more widely available. And greater practical experience has been harvested from a range of recent patent landscaping initiatives. This trend opens up enormous practical potential for improved patent information resources for public policymakers addressing the life sciences.
This Symposium aims to take a first step towards more systematically matching the policy needs – the international policy agenda on public policy issues of concern in the life sciences – with the practical capacities – the diverse resources that are now increasingly available to gather, analyze and extract key trends and findings from patent information.
I have been working with WIPO for the past three months developing written guidelines for the preparation of patent landscape reports. This initial workshop was an opportunity to get some preliminary feedback on the first draft as well as a chance to share best practices between an international audience of practitioners, who are increasingly becoming involved with the creation of PLRs.
Day one started with presentations from Mr. Alejandro Roca Campaña, Senior Director, Access to Information and Knowledge Division, WIPO, and Mr. Jose Graḉa-Aranha, Regional Director, WIPO Brazil Office who set the tone for the meeting by acknowledging the importance of the topic, and the value of gathering professionals from around the world to agree on the concepts associated with producing accurate patent analytics and reports. After some additional introductory remarks to discuss the format of the workshop, and a few of the initial topics covered in the guidelines, the remainder of day one was devoted to presentations from the patent office representatives who were present for the meeting.
While listening to the presentations from Brazil, the Philippines, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, and Mexico, there were a number of observations I came away with from the talks:
- Many of the offices are offering patent watch, and analysis services to both the public, and private sectors within their respective countries. The primary rational given for offering these services was that many organizations within their countries could not afford to pay high prices for them. Offering patent analytics to corporate clients is clearly seen as a means to increase the value of the patent office in the eyes of industry. It was also stated that many of the local, commercial providers of patent analysis services in Latin America are not providing high quality results. The patent offices would like to set the standard for patent analytics in these countries.
- Several offices provide collections of expired patents, or potentially useful inventions that were patented in other countries but were not covered in their particular jurisdictions. This was seen as a valuable service since it provides access to new technologies in key industrial segments for the good of the country. In the case of Chile, the office even went so far as to provide a guide to available technologies to support the reconstruction efforts after the 2010 earthquake and tsunami, which ravished the country.
- One of the primary goals of the WIPO project is to increase the use of patent analytics to inform public policy discussions. This was clearly taking place in the Latin American countries present, and there were many examples given of cooperation between the patent offices, and public policy makers, as well as universities within the countries.
- While the workshop was being organized there was some concern about the availability of commercial tools and databases within the region. After the first few talks it was established that most practitioners had access to many of the same commercial tools, and data sources available to analysts in Europe, the US and the Far East. While access may only have been available for the past few years these countries have made a good start of climbing the learning curve associated with this area.
One of the highlights of the workshop was the presence of Mr. Gerhard Fischer from Syngenta. Mr. Fischer provided several presentations, and case studies during the course of the three days, and the participants enjoyed seeing the methods, tools and business rationals that were associated with patent analytics within the context of a large, corporate, multi-national organization. Mr. Fischer’s perspectives set the standard for many of the attendees on what they will be striving for within their own programs as they continue to develop and gain traction. The image below is a photograph taken during the workshop of the WIPO representatives, Mr. Fischer, and the speakers from the Latin American offices.
The remaining day and a half of the workshop was devoted to the guidelines themselves, and the presentations discussed various sections included in them. Joining me in providing these talks were the two individuals primarily responsible for this project within WIPO; Mr. Lutz Mailänder, Head, Patent Information Section, Access to Information and Knowledge Division, and Ms. Irene Kitsara, Project Officer, Patent Information Section, Access to Information and Knowledge Division. There were many comments from the attendees about how impactful, instructional, and detailed these sessions were, and how generally they came away having learned a great deal during the course of the workshop. Everyone seemed to agree that the networking opportunities, discussions of different approaches and perspectives, and the lesson imparted, through the guidelines, made the time spent very valuable. The image below is a photograph of about one fourth of the participants taken on the last day of the workshop.
Nearly all the presentations made during the workshop, and the agenda for the event can be found at http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=30167. Feedback on the guidelines is currently being collected, and will be reviewed before a near final version of the guidelines is made available by WIPO later this year. There will be a second regional workshop conducted during the first week of December in Manila, Philippines. See the Meetings page under the Events menu item on patinformatics.com for additional details on this event when they are announced.
On a related note, for those of you in Europe and India, I will be providing workshop training on patent analytics in Vienna in October and in Bangalore in November, as well as participating in the workshop in Manila. While the workshops in Europe and India will not follow the guidelines, per se, some of the primary principles will be covered.
Special thanks need to go to the people responsible for organizing the workshop from both WIPO, and INPI. The event was a tremendous success, and on a personal note, I had a wonderful time visiting the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. I truly hope to be able to return to Brazil in the future.
Patent analysis, and in particular the generation of patent landscape reports, continues to gain in popularity as a tool for strategic decision-making, both in the public, and private sectors. WIPO initially began to call attention to the importance of this area, and then followed up by beginning to procure PLRs on a variety of topics of interest to developing countries. The organization has now started taking steps to build on the existing repertoire by including lessons, and best practices on the generation of quality patent analytics, and reports. The guidelines themselves, and the presentations associated with the regional workshops, will be a lasting resource to help improve the production of these items worldwide.