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Using TRIZ for Competitor Patent Circumnavigation and other Patent strategies

One of the proven ways to differentiate a product is through patent protection that is recognized by the law of the land. With the evolution of technology, increase in awareness of patenting, abundant access to information through internet and an urge to create something new, many companies are pursuing filling patents.

The above factors are enabling a healthy environment to groom some smart inventors who come with disruptive inventions. With Information Technology leading the way to smart applications, the gap in technical know-how between traditional original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and start-ups is reducing. For example, Intellectual Property in power distribution area was traditionally dominated by OEM’s of Power Generation / Utility companies. With the evolution of smart grid, the unexpected players in the smart meters domain are the IT companies like IBM.

There are four important aspects that enable a high value & high quality patent on which I will write a detailed blog separately at a later date. In short they are:

  1. Alignment with business IP strategy
  2. Importance of the problem solved
  3. Novelty of the Idea, and
  4. Quality of the invention disclosure leading to a patent application

A patent gives negative right – right to exclude others to manufacture or offer to sale. An example in Indian scenario, Bajaj Automobile got an interlocutory injunction and stopped TVS (two wheeler manufacturer) from selling its product Flame that has a twin spark plug engine. Situations where the Organization gets unexpected competitors / patents that stop a product launch are very expensive and can be detrimental to its existence. How to deal such situations?

Two approaches can help navigate such tough situations:

  1. Reactive way… To circumvent the competitor’s patent in short term.
  2. Proactive way… Adopt patent strategies and develop IP strategy with long term vision. (It has to be followed by performing a “freedom to operate” effort by the Organization’s IP team before product launch with guidance from an IP Attorney).

Patent circumnavigation can be done by using TRIZ (Theory of Solving Inventive Problems) methodology. TRIZ was developed by Genrich Altshuller, a Russian inventor and science fiction writer. Now TRIZ is being adopted globally by fortune 500 companies like General Electric, Samsung, Intel, to name a few, as a structured approach to accelerate novel solution development by going beyond design trade-off’s/compromises across the organization. TRIZ busts the myth that creativity is a gift of selected few.

Using the basic application of TRIZ based functional modelling, any engineering system (examples: a tooth brush, a razor blade, etc.,) can be decoded into a functional model based on the first independent claim. Then use the TRIZ concept of trimming to find ways to redistribute functions and there by eliminate components. The same methodology can be adopted in your patent and build a portfolio of patents proactively for high value inventions. Patent being a techno-legal document, the Organization needs to seek guidance from IP Attorney.

One example of patent strategies is by using picket fencing approach – Where the strong patent (be it either competitor or yours) is protected by filling various embodiments or by modifying means of accomplishing the same function. Here again, the TRIZ concept of function oriented search can be adopted to find new means of accomplishing the same function.

To help organizations in this endeavor, I, the Founder of ProInnConsultancy, being a certified GE internal IP Analyst and a student of Dr. Sergei Ikovenko, teach 2 Patent strategies (IP Portfolio development and picket fencing) and Patent circumnavigation using TRIZ along with MATRIZ certified TRIZ level 1 workshop that I offer.

I strongly recommend the visitors of this blog to attend the “TRIZ for Competitor Patent Circumnavigation and Other Patent Strategies” – a one day workshop at Cyberjaya (Kuala Lumpur) on 23rd November, 2015 where Dr. Sergei Ikovenko, Dr-Eng, PhD, TRIZ Master, and Professor (MIT) will cover many patent strategies and on patent circumnavigation using TRIZ methodology. For further details please contact the MyTRIZ organizer: Mr. Tan Eng Hoo (link attached).

Who should attend: Business Leaders who aspire for Organic Growth, Research & Development / Engineering Professionals, Strategy Consultants, IP Consultants, Attorneys, Senior technologists across all industries and Academia.

I strongly recommend to stay on 24th to witness the 2015 MyTRIZ competition with 9 International teams competing by demonstrating their knowledge and practical application of TRIZ that will be judged by international experts.