How to Create an IP-Driven Innovation Funnel to Boost Patent Search

Be it the great depression of the 1920s or the current COVID19-induced economic slump, the cycle of innovation has continued. Interestingly, some of the breakthrough innovations happened during the tough times – the internet economy emerged in the US recession of the 1990s, and the iPod was invented in the recession age of the 2000s.

However, during these challenging circumstances when resources are diminishing, businesses cannot pursue every idea hoping for a return on investment (ROI). So how will companies determine which idea can be successfully converted into a patent application? The answer lies in formulating an innovation funnel.

What is an Innovation Funnel?

An innovation funnel can be defined as a legacy process of converting ideas into patents after screening them for viability. The funnel has three phases – idea capturing, idea screening, and idea protection phase. Going through the process, several ideas are knocked down and only a few get converted into patent applications.

Importance of Innovation Funnel

With an innovation influx likely during the pandemic, the research and development (R&D) activities would remain a strategic priority for companies to meet the global competition and stay afloat. Therefore, it’s crucial to optimize the use of resources to pursue only viable ideas that can build a sustainable IP and help in gaining competitive advantages in the next phase of the economic cycle.

Creating an Efficient IP-Driven Innovation Funnel

As per the conventional innovation funnel, most ideas are knocked down and only a few make it to the patent filing stage. For instance, if 6X (X is a variable) ideas are captured in the first phase, only 2X make it through the idea screening phase and only 1X ideas are finally filtered as suitable for patent filing. Businesses also have a conversion ratio as low as 6:1.

To resolve the challenges associated with the 6X stage, which includes a dearth of in-house resources to process ideas and conduct searches, companies choose to outsource the process. However, outsourcing also has its own sets of challenges such as high turnaround time due to a long chain of commands. Therefore, there’s a need for an evolved process that’s not only cost and time effective but also ensures that no idea goes to waste.

Adapting to Changing Landscape With Hybrid Patentability Search

The hybrid approach is a modified innovation funnel that effectively counters the challenges posed by the conventional innovation funnel. A Hybrid Patentability search is a combination of AI-based and manual searches. This approach divides the patentability search process during the 6X phase into two stages – post ideation and pre-filing searches.

  • Post Ideation Stage: The hybrid patentability search involves augmenting the first stage through AI. This implies that 6X inventions are fed into an AI tool to knockout frivolous inventions. It only requires feeding the concept of innovation into the tool and it fetches the results highlighting the novelty of the idea. If it’s not new, the idea can be modified to meet the novelty criteria at that point itself. The process is known as post ideation novelty searches or knockout novelty searches.
  • Pre-filing Stage: The pre-filing search – a manual thorough search – is the second stage of the hybrid patentability search process. The manual search helps in identifying the relevant prior art and understand the relevant space. It also helps in refining the ideas better in view of the prior art identified during the knockout searches.

Hybrid Approach & Resource Optimization

The current economic scenario, plagued by the pandemic, calls for an efficient method of filtering ideas so that higher outcomes can be derived in the IP ecosystem by strategically using the diminishing resources. The hybrid patentability search ensures resource optimization in several ways.

  • Reduces Turnaround Time: The AI-based technology deployed during the post-ideation stage knocks out frivolous ideas quickly. Similarly, it offers the scope to modify inventions on a real-time basis to meet the novelty criteria even if the AI tool shows similar patents in search results. Therefore, the hybrid approach saves time and resolves challenges related to outsourcing these searches.
  • Minimizes Cost: The two-stage process in the hybrid approach saves up to one-third of the total cost incurred on patentability searches. For instance, if a company files less than 500 patent filings a year, it will save more than half a million dollars. The hybrid approach also reduces the overall cost of obtaining the patent portfolio and keeps the return on investment high. Furthermore, it saves the cost of IP protection (patent filing/office actions) for the dropped ideas.
  • Prevents Loss of Ideas: It’s discouraging for inventors when an idea is lost.Loss of idea occurs due to procedural delays and dependencies. Therefore, the hybrid approach also allows for contemporary searches – i.e. a knockout search through the course, or as the invention or the idea comes closer to the filing. This step is followed by a meticulous manual search.

Final Thoughts

The economy is currently witnessing a downturn and businesses are cost-cutting on activities that do not give an immediate return on investment. Hybrid Patentability Searchesis a rational approach to increasing ROI and regulating the cost. The method creates an efficient and evolved IP-driven innovation funnel that keeps R&D going.

Sagacious IP provides a cost-effective hybrid search platform that combines AI-based search, powered by Amplified, with its manual search capabilities. Our efficient patentability search services are a one-stop solution to knock-out the ideas and evaluate the screened inventions through Sagacious Patentability Assessment. To watch a webinar on the topic, click here.

Vaibhav Henry (ICT), Sumit Prasad (IT for IP) and the Editorial Team

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