It is important to identify competitors since this will enable you to become aware of your competitors within your technology field and will help you to know who you should focus your attention on.
Once you have identified your competitors it is equally as important to track them after that so you know what technology areas they are currently focusing on and looking to move into.
Using PatSnap, you are able to both identify and track competitors using various different functionalities.
Identifying competitors using PatSnap is not as complicated as it may first seem. If you can master it you'll be able to gain an insight into their portfolio, and upon further analysis, their filing strategies, including trends and specific areas to avoid, whether it be through litigation cases linked with certain patents or objections.
Identifying Competitors From A Technology Search
As can be found in our Technology Searching document, the best way of performing a search within a specific technology field is by searching for keywords in the title/abstract/claims (TAC) field and using classification codes that correspond to that field.
You can identify competitors after performing a technology search by looking at the assignees that appear in the search results for this search.
It is also useful to filter by simple legal status to see only patents that are active or pending since inactive patents cannot be used at all by your competitors to block you from operating within a specific technology field.
Companies with lots of active or pending patents in the technology field you are interested in could well be one of your main competitors.
Identifying Competitors From Citations Of You Own Portfolio
To do this click on any patent of interest and click on the "Citation Map" option.
In the Citation Map, you will then be able to see a treemap of both forward and backward citations for this specific patent. The patents you should then focus on are the forward citations (i.e. the patents that are labelled as "Cited by") since this gives you a list of patents that have cited your patent of interest.
You will then be able to find a further list of competitors by showing the Standardized Assignees for the forward citation list which can be done by selecting the option of "Show by Standardized Assignee" in the menu on the left-hand side of the map.
Identifying Competitors On Insights
It is also possible for you to identify competitors by making use of our Insights platform.
To do this, begin by creating a Technology Dashboard based on your search results. This can be done by clicking on the "Insights" option from the search results page.
From here, you will straightaway be able to see a list of the top companies within this technology field.
You can also identify companies within a specific technology field in Insights by looking at the "New Companies" graph which is found in the "Innovation Profile" area.
Either of these methods is an effective way of identifying competitors and also shows that there are multiple different ways of identifying your competitors using PatSnap. It should also be noted that Insights focuses on the current portfolio for a particular assignee and not their full portfolio.
Once you have identified your competitors it is equally important to track them after this so that you can keep up-to-date with the technology fields that they are currently working in or plan to work in the future. There are various different ways to track competitors using PatSnap by utilizing a multitude of its different functionalities.
Once you have identified your competitors it is worthwhile to do a full portfolio search on their patents so that you can get a full picture of the technology fields they are currently working in or have worked in the past. To do this, type the competitor's company name into the "Assignee" field in the "Advanced" Search page. This will automatically search using 4 different Assignee search fields (Original Assignee, Standardized Assignee, Current Assignee, Standardized Current Assignee) to give you a broad scope of their portfolios.
As companies have different subsidiaries, it may be beneficial for you to also make use of our Corporate Tree, to understand that company's structure. It should be noted that the company names that appear here are the legal names for the companies which might not necessarily be the assignee names as used in the patent document. Because of this, it is best to use this only as a guide to the company's structure and not additionally in your search query.
Once you have performed this search you will see the technology fields that this company is focusing on and you will be able to identify whether this company is actually a competitor.
Tracking Competitors Using Workspaces
You can track competitors using Workspaces by making use of automatically updating folders and email alerts.
There are two different types of Workspace folder, those being "Automatic Update" and "Static" folders and these two cases will need to be considered separately.
1. Automatic Update Folders
To create an Automatic Update folder from the search results page, firstly you need to save your results to a Workspace which can be done by clicking on "Save to Workspace" in the top-right of the page. To then make it an Automatic Update folder, you need to click on the "Automatic update" tickbox. You can also check your search query by clicking on "Advanced options".
Note from the image below, the difference between an Automatic Update folder and a Static folder. (The clock-like symbol for an Automatic Update folder and the normal folder symbol for a Static folder).
To create an email alert from an Automatic Update folder, firstly click on the "Email Alert" button found within the folder.
In the email alert menu, you can then rename your alert, select the specific types of alert that you would like to receive, choose the recipients of the email alert and decide upon the frequency of the email alerts.
2. Static Folders
To set up an email alert for a Static folder it firstly needs to be turned into an Automatic Update folder.
To do this, go to the "Automatic Update" option within the folder, turn "Automatic Update" On and type the search query associated with this folder in.
The procedure to create an Email Alert from here is identical as to that of an Automatic Update folder.
Tracking Competitors Using A Search Query
If you feel that the procedure of creating an email alert from a Workspace folder is too long-winded then it is possible to create them directly from the search results page instead.
You can do this by going to the "Email Alert" button within the search results page.
It should be noted that this type of email alert should only be used when you are considering the competitor's overall portfolio (i.e. not legal status changes or new family members) since this email alert only considers "New Patents". Therefore, in general, we recommend that you use Email Alerts from an automatically updating Workspace folder instead.
Tracking Competitors Using Landscapes
You can also track competitors by making use of our Landscape feature.
To do this, first select the criteria you want to use for the Landscape.
Once you have done this, select a cluster of specific Landscape grids by clicking on the "Select Grid(s)" option.
After this, click on the option of "View Patents" to view the patents in a list and select the option of "Add to Workspace" to add these patents to a Static folder.
However, we recommend that you that you instead save each of the new Landscape you create by selecting the different grids and then share those sub-Landscapes with other members of your team.
To save a Landscape, go to "Save" in the bottom-right of the screen and you can then find the saved Landscape by going to "My Landscape" in the top-left of the screen.
From the "My Landscape" area, you are then able to share your Landscape by clicking on the share option for a Landscape and typing in the email addresses of your colleagues and clicking on "Add".
The initial Landscape will automatically update based on the criteria you set up for it each time you access the platform.
Tracking Competitors Using Insights
The last method you can use to track competitors using PatSnap is by making use of our Insights platform.
To do this, first, click on the settings cog on the "Competitor Tracking" tool found on the right of the Insights homepage.
From here you can type in up to 5 companies that you want to track and select the tracking period you want to consider.
This will then create a company dashboard based on this company's patenting activity in the last year. From here, you can go to "Latest Info" within the "Portfolio Analysis" area to see the latest info on this company's patenting activity. You can also set up an email alert for this company by hovering over the envelope icon and setting "Subscribe latest info" to On which will enable you to get weekly updates of news in relation to "New Patents", "Litigation" and "Licensing" for this company.
Finding Your Alerts
It is also important to be able to easily find your email alerts so that you can check exactly what you have set up and you can also make changes to them here.
To go to the Alert area, click on your initial in the top-right of any page within Analytics and click on the option of "Alert".
From here, you will see the specific types of email alerts you have set up, recipient email addresses, the total number of patents associated with the Alert, and its current status. You can switch an Alert On or Off by selecting the switches situated under the "Status" column heading; change specific criteria and recipients by hovering over the rightmost cell and selecting the pencil icon, and you can also delete alerts by clicking on the dustbin icon also situated here.