Protecting innovations through patents is crucial in bringing new products and services to market. However, maintaining this protection year after year and for various countries is costly. Therefore, deciding which patents are worth keeping is a choice all R&D-oriented companies periodically deal with. Focus, a company based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has come up with a solution for this problem. Focus is developing an algorithm that enables patents in a portfolio to be ranked quickly and automatically, based on their technological importance. To further develop their algorithm and test it extensively with customers, Focus receives an investment of proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ. The investment was announced by Martin Luxemburg, director of the Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship, where the office of Focus is located.
Screening hundreds of thousands of patents manually
R&D activities across the globe lead to the existence of large patent portfolios with various companies. These portfolios consist, depending on the innovative character and scope of the company, of hundreds of thousands of patents. The investments made to maintain such a portfolio run into millions of euros per year.
Each portfolio is continuously subject to change. New patents are added while existing patents are stricken from the portfolio. Maintaining the portfolio as such is the task of a select group of patent- and technology experts. Periodically these people manually go through parts of the portfolio, to identify which patents are important, and which patented technologies can be stricken without damaging the company’s position. With no tools available on the market to rank patents based on their importance, the patent- and technology expert has to screen the entire patent portfolio manually.
Focus’ patent ranking algorithm makes portfolio management much more effective
This manual screening makes the management of a patent portfolio a labour intensive and costly process. Focus is developing an algorithm with which this screening becomes a lot more efficient. This algorithm ranks patents within a portfolio automatically based on their technological importance. In placing the patent in a ranked order, the algorithm takes into account the context and development of the entire patent landscape within the domain concerned. Therefore, the patent expert instantly gains insight in what the most and the least valuable patents are in his portfolio, after which he can look into these particular patents in more detail.
Performing pilots on complete patent portfolios
The founders of Focus, Jard van Ingen and Thijs van de Pol, combine knowledge of the patent industry with a model-based, econometrical outlook to develop a superior and unique ranking algorithm. This algorithm has proven itself within a select number of technical domains during tests with potential customers. Focus will use the UNIIQinvestment to further develop the algorithm to enable its use on the worldwide network of patents, and all technical domains.
Jard van Ingen, co-founder Focus: “We are thrilled and honoured that UNIIQ has placed their confidence in our ability to take this venture to the next level. The UNIIQ investment will enable us to scale up our algorithm, execute multiple pilot projects with prospective customers, and design a simple interface for users to interact with our algorithm”.
Liduina Hammer, fund manager UNIIQ: “With the investment in Focus we add the first legal tech company to our portfolio. The algorithm of Focus can support R&D-oriented companies with the labour-intensive and valuable process of portfolio maintenance, hereby contributing to the innovative power of the company”.