Network Patent Analysis FAQs

How do I read an NPA™ patent map?

Each dot on an NPA™ patent landscape map refers to a highly ranked patent, due to its strong connections with other patents. A larger dot indicates a more dominant patent, while a thicker line indicates a stronger citation relationship between patents. Clusters of closely located patents are more likely to disclose similar technologies.

What does patent dominance mean in terms of patent quality?

Dominant patents are more and better connected to other patents, in a similar way as to how influential people are more connected to other people, many of them influential themselves. Highly ranked patents are more likely to disclose inventions of high value than lower ranked patents.

What does a patent cluster signify?

A cluster of similar patents suggests an area of high commercial value. Inventions cost money to develop, and patents cost money to file. A large patent cluster implies an important problem to be solved, which is likely to be commercially valuable.

How do I find out what each patent dot means?

NPA patent maps can be produced with a small identifying code next to each dot. This code can be used to find the details of this patent in the accompanying spreadsheet. Similarly, patents listed in the spreadsheet can be found in the patent map by looking for the identifying code.

Can NPA™ be used to find so called ‘white spaces’ suggesting opportunities for innovation?

‘White spaces' can be easily identified as the white spaces between clusters of patents. The potential subject matter of these white spaces can be estimated by considering the subject matter of the adjacent clusters. In addition, any unclustered patents that fall within the white space can provide valuable information about innovation opportunities.

Patent citations can be unreliable. Wouldn’t this affect the reliability of NPA?

Individual patent citations can be unreliable. However errors in individual patent citations should be randomly distributed, and so cancel out if enough citation data is collected. Up to one million citation linkages can be used to create an individual NPA analysis, well and truly removing the effect of individual error. Also NPA™ patent analysis looks for supporting data to confirm individual patent citation records.

How does NPA™ work?

NPA uses sophisticated and proprietary algorithms to combine and augment patent data collected from a patent search, and then identifies the patents with the strongest connections to other patents, and the strengths of these connections.

I have seen patent maps before. How does NPA differ from other patent maps?

The majority of the earlier style patent landscape maps are created by grouping patents based on keywords. Grouping patents by keywords has no inherent ability to rank patents. Analysing patents by keyword also has a lesser ability to distinguish patents in a narrow technology field that can disclose quite separate inventions but use very similar keywords. Besides distinguishing patents using similar keywords that disclose different inventions, NPA™ patent analysis can even group patents that use different keywords.

Does NPA simply count the number of forward or backward citations a patent has?

The ranking of a patent in an NPA analysis is not only dependent on its citations, but also on the citation linkages of the patents it is connected to. A patent with a relatively low number of citations can still end up highly ranked by NPA, if it is connected to other highly ranked patents.

Does NPA™ patent analysis work for recent patents that may have fewer citation linkages?

Because the ranking of a patent can depend on its related patents, even quite recent patents, granted within the last year or two and containing no forward citation data, can end up highly rated by NPA.

Does NPA™ patent analysis work for all types of technology?

NPA is technology neutral. Providing that the key developments in a technology field are protected by patent applications, NPA will work with that technology.

Does NPA™ patent analysis work for patent portfolios as well as for individual patents?

NPA can combine the scores of individual patents to estimate and rank the quality of a patent portfolio and its owner.

Is NPA™ patent analysis an objective or subjective process?

NPA patent analysis is an objective means of combining the subjective opinions expressed within patent application and citations. The power of combining individual subjective opinions to rank items should be familiar to anyone who has ever used a search engine or a social media website to look for highly ranked items.

Why analyse so many patents?

Patent analysts are increasing recognising the value of patent citations, and some are developing systems can show simple citations relationships between patents. However NPA is more than the process of drawing citation relationships between patents. NPA™ patent analysis uses statistically robust quantities of patent citations to identify the leading patents and citation relationships. By our extensive analysis process we can:

  • ensure the key patents and technologies are identified;
  • identify ‘parallel’ technologies, which are technologies applied into different commercial areas that can be potentially applied into your commercial areas — and maybe even form the basis of new patent applications.

Don’t be fooled into thinking a simple citation analysis and a pretty picture will suffice. At Ambercite we believe that patent landscape maps need to be robust and defensible, just like your business.