If you are an innovation professional or an investor in new technology, you certainly appreciate that it is important to investigate and analyze the so-called “patent landscape” prior to moving forward with your business plans. As shown by examples such as the $600 plus million settlement of the BlackBerry(tm) lawsuit in 2006 and the $431 million liability court finding that Boston Scientific infringed the patent of a New Jersey doctor, the execution of innovation and technology-based business strategies can be significantly derailed by the pre-existing patent rights of others. In view of these examples (as well as many others), you should not embark on any innovation or technology investment prior to developing a valid point of view on how patents will affect your investment payback.
However, in talking to clients of my IP business strategy consulting company, I know that there is no uniform understanding of exactly what a business professional should be looking for when obtaining a patent landscape. This lack of clarity is not surprising because this term has no established meaning or methodology. Indeed, I have found that the term “patent landscape” is often nothing other than a convenient marketing phrase for the services of companies that purport to be able to cull the mass of patent information available today and provide patent synopses that are readable by businesspeople.
As an IP Strategist and having been a consumer of multiple patent landscape products in my past life as a senior corporate IP attorney, I understand that most patent landscapes are worthless for making business decisions because the underlying methodologies collect and summarize the wrong information in patents. This is a real example of “garbage in, garbage out.”