Patent Research: Why is it useful for competitor discovery

  • August 24, 2020

Part of excelling over your competitor(s) is learning what they are doing well and where they could use improvement. To make a “better” product or idea, start with researching the industry standard. Learning about what patents exist on similar products can help shed light on what elements of competitor products are patent protected and which are fair game for re-creating or improving upon. Another great thing about patents is that by studying them we can gain invaluable insight into what the competition, as well as the industry, is dong. A close look at competitor patents can offer clues to current industry trends and allow you to forecast upcoming trends.

Patents Similar to Yours

If you think you have a completely innovative product it is advisable to double-check this hypothesis by researching patents. If any are found that share obvious, glaring similarities with your product you will need to differentiate your product from that product in some way. This does not mean you have to start from square one and reinvent the invention. You could offer a lower price, better service, or some other perk to make sure your product remains competitive in the market.

Seeing similar products will help you to understand what the industry standard is, what other people in the market are doing, how they are remaining competitive and most importantly what you can do to create a more marketable product.

Selling Patents

Many companies hold on to old patents they no longer need. Don’t forget, these old patents are a sellable commodity! If your company no longer has a use for them sell them. There may be a company that is interested in obtaining them!

Clues

Unfortunately, the answers we can find in exploring patents are not out in the open marked by bright neon signs. Patent research for competitor discovery takes a fair amount of detective work. Start within your immediate industry and branch out from there. Look for patents on similar products. It pays to take the time to learn about your major competitors as well as the most tech-savvy and future-focused competitors. What are these organizations patenting? Is there anything unusual you see? For example, right before streaming services for television and music became so popular, DVD and CD manufacturers and retails could have stayed ahead of the curve had they been privy to new patents securing intellectual property rights for these streaming services.

You can also learn about other companies this way. If in your patent research you find the names of unknown companies buying patents in your industry, look up these names and see what information you can gather on these competitors.

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