Patent portfolios are an instrument of strategic R&D controlling. Similar to technology portfolios, the technological position of a company is presented in comparison to the competition. Patent portfolios have the advantage that they do not depend on subjective assessments by people and that the necessary information about the competition can be obtained more easily, since patent information is quickly accessible via databases and the Internet.
For the creation of patent portfolios, patents must first be assigned to the technology fields. This can be done efficiently by using Boolean operators to create assignment rules from the combination of IPC classes and relevant keywords. In the patent portfolio, three key figures are determined for each technology field:
1) The "relative patent position" (abscissa) measures the patent strength of the company in relation to the competitor with the highest value for the patent strength per technology field. The maximum value that can be achieved is therefore one. The patent strength consists of two components:
Number of patent applications per technology field and average quality of these patent applications.
The quality of the patent can be determined in particular through patent quotations, the term and the breadth of the foreign filings. Numerous empirical studies have shown that the patent quality indicators mentioned correlate positively with the economic value of patents. The respective quality measures are to be put into perspective in relation to suitable comparative values.
2) The "technology attractiveness" (ordinate) is determined by the growth in patent applications in the respective technology field relative to the growth in patent applications in all the technology fields considered. In order to emphasize current developments more strongly, the growth of patent applications in the last three years compared to previous periods can also be determined.
3) The "technology importance" reflects the R&D priorities of the companies. It is calculated by dividing a company's number of patent applications per technology field by the company's total number of patent applications. The larger the circular area, the greater the importance of this technology for the company.
Analogously to other portfolio presentations, the positions in the patent portfolio (Portfolio analysis, Technology portfolio) Derived from standard strategies. In the example, the R&D management has to consider whether R&D funds should be shifted from weakly growing technology fields to faster growing technology fields in which the company also has weak relative patent positions.
It should be noted that patents may not cover the full range of companies' R&D activities and that delays in disclosure in industries with short technology cycles can limit their informative value. Since patents are also assigned to products in addition to technology fields, patent and market portfolios can be integrated.