Keeping a close eye on the competition with patent monitoring
Automated systems are making it increasingly easy to keep a close eye on your competitors' patent portfolio. Patent Attorney Kees Hollaar has some convincing arguments for setting up patent monitoring. The Top 3:
1. PREVENTING INFRINGEMENTS
It is an absolute disaster when you invest heavily in R&D, develop a prototype, get a product ready for production, set up a marketing campaign and are then informed about a competitor's patent. It is much better to explore the playing field at an early stage although it is often not possible to find out absolutely everything in advance. Patent monitoring could be the answer in this case.
Ongoing patent monitoring keeps you informed about what is happening. It provides you with a monthly overview of new applications that have been published, countries that have been added and patents that have been granted. It helps you keep track of the latest developments with limited effort and costs. Any obstacles can be identified and anticipated at an early stage, for example by devising a work-around.
2. INTERVENING IN A COMPETITOR'S PATENT APPLICATION AT AN EARLY STAGE
Patent applications are published after eighteen months. When you set up patent monitoring for a certain patent class or the names of your competitors, you will receive an overview of any relevant applications that have been filed. Before a patent is granted there are still some opportunities to influence the granting procedure. An examiner does not always appear to be well-informed about the prior art. As a third party, you can feed the examiner with information to help ensure that a submitted claim is rejected. By doing so you can prevent overly broad rights being granted to competitors and pave the way for your own development. Moreover, it can help avoid a lot of legal bickering between parties and time and money being wasted on the basis of an allegedly valid patent.
3. KEEPING AN EYE ON WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE MARKET
By monitoring your competitors' patent portfolio or keeping track of publications in a particular technical field you get a good idea of the direction the industry is heading in. With patent monitoring you can keep an eye on when the publication of your own application is quoted for a subsequent application filed by someone else. This gives you an immediate trigger when someone is encroaching on your territory. The market insights can also be a valuable source of inspiration for your own product development. You may come across start-ups or established players on the other side of the world. This offers commercial opportunities as you could, for example, enter into a partnership for product development and distribution.
Any patent monitoring service will be set up specifically for you. Your field of activity has to be defined and the names of your competitors have to be identified. Once set up, you will be able to enjoy the benefits for a long time. Patent monitoring generally costs around € 250 per month. Your patent attorney can help you find a patent monitoring service that is right for you.
If you would like to find out more about the ways of keeping track of your competitors, please feel free to contact Kees.