Innovation rating and patent rating have different tasks, but are interrelated. An innovation rating is used to assess a company’s ability to compete with other (innovative) companies through innovation. The patent rating, on the other hand, is a future-oriented judgment on the relative intrinsic value of a patent and requires a system of classification. The classification system is used to organize patent documents and many other technical documents in relatively small collections based on common topics.
When should a patent rating be issued, when should this assessment be reviewed and possibly updated? In large organizations, this is already an organizational issue if this task is performed by a formal patent committee. The patent committee reviews the decision to file a patent application.
In practice, patent management ranges from the invention, to the processing phase in a patent committee or committee, if set up, in which inventions are reviewed and decisions are made as to whether a patent application should be filed or not, to the patent application process from the first filing to the granting of the (foreign) registration, patent maintenance and patent portfolio management. Patent ratings are particularly an instrument of patent portfolio management because it helps to analyze the structure of the portfolio.
Different technology areas can have different priorities depending on the technology and business strategy of the company. The maturity of the invention may result in some delay in the process. Certain cases may offer options for additional divisional applications.
Transparency is crucial for the qualification of the rating inputs. If a rating is repeated within a very short time, it should reliably deliver a comparable and verifiable result. As with any other rating system, validity and reliability must be checked.
A rating agency is committed to a code of conduct. The person submitting the rating should conduct the rating free of any biased assessment. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed. Any changes to the assessment of a particular case should be recorded, indicating the new assessment, who made the change, and the reasons for making the change, along with supporting material.
The fact that technology, companies and industries change over time is an important argument to justify why assessments should be reviewed at key points in the patent process and updated as necessary.
In addition to the perception on the market, patenting should be dealt with at all other milestones in the patent process and should be dealt with as needed, e.g. For example, if the patent examiner requests “official actions”, if the case takes place in another country and the patent application becomes due.
The importance of intangible assets is increasing. The concept of ratings, as it has been known since the 19th century for assessing the reputation of corporate partners and the quality of securities, can also be used in the world of intellectual property. If an asset cannot have any value, it is not an asset. Even air is an asset, because air can also become an asset paid for when it becomes scarce.
The nature of innovation means that inventions can vary from incremental to radical, can refer to products, services, processes or business models. The innovation process includes ambiguity, controversy and non-linearity, and this is also reflected in the inventiveness. The importance of each invention is a crucial question that needs to be answered.
The diversity of such intellectual property, both in terms of its maturity, geographic coverage and applicable technology, means that a rating scheme should bring benefits. The variety of patent applications ranges from semiconductor and computer technology, electrical machines, telecommunications, life sciences including the analysis of biological materials and biotechnology, optics, medical technology and pharmaceuticals to environmental-related technologies.
Patents give their holder freedom of action and protect product differentiation. Used in an entrepreneurial way, patents allow to generate income and grant business influence. Patents often enable technology to be put into practical use, bring cost competitiveness and support technology out-licensing. Patents help to organize the division of labor in the economy.
At this point it is not to be discussed whether the legal figure of the patent brings any economic benefit at all. There are strong arguments that costs and benefits are cancelling out. This is especially true if one takes into account not only the officials involved, but also the considerable resources that have to be kept in the company for this.
Patenting can be expensive, so costs need to be carefully considered. Patents need to be managed well. In companies that have thousands of patents, rating systems are imperative to keep track of these company assets. Cost management includes planning, coordination, control and reporting of all cost-related aspects. Identifying all costs and making informed decisions about options is not an easy task, especially in large companies. When purchasing patents, it is important to check which ones offer the best value for money. Systematization can also be carried out using a rating system.
The simplest rating system for any company is a black and white system. For example, a very simple two-step scheme is to label cases as either strategic or tactical, or even “in use” or “not in use”. If, in addition to “black” and “white”, the “grayscale” is also taken into account, one can speak of a rating system.
A number of questions arise for companies with patents or patentable inventions. Should the invention be implemented in “our” products or services? Is the invention likely to be implemented by a third party? Does the case offer licensing options? Does the invention relate to a unique selling proposition or a central function of the company? What is the possible use of the invention in the future, especially when it is linked to basic research?
In many companies, the establishment of a professional rating system for patents overwhelms the resources available. The rating of patents is therefore assigned to specialized rating agencies. The choice of rating approach should be formally documented and made available to the key players in the process of inventing and patenting. Each rating scheme that is designed and implemented must be consistently maintained over a certain period of time in order to ensure comparability.
As with any other rating system, the patent rating must also consider the conditions under which a methodology is changed and the standards of the assessment adjusted. A few decades ago, recording the data alone was a tremendous challenge. However, the assessment of cases is recorded today in the IP data management system. The associated data fields of the rating have to be treated with the same professionalism as all other key data fields that support the most important patenting processes. The rapid development of information and communication technology gives users of rating systems decisive competitive advantages.