Key metrics for analyzing Intellectual Property performance
Many different roles are involved in the processes of generating and protecting innovation. When measuring Intellectual Property (IP) performance, the metrics of interest are as diverse as the tasks completed over the course of the intangible asset life cycle.
To understand how performance analysis benchmarks vary by context, we will first look at how different organizations work with IP and examine its impact on their overall business operation.
Organizations and their IP approaches
Corporations have design or R&D teams that engender brand identity and innovation. Their creations are then handed over to IP specialists, who decide whether to file for IP rights or enshroud these properties as trade secrets.
The company's IP assets — patents, design rights, registered trademarks and copyrights — are the foundation of its product portfolio. They are integral to creating competitive advantage, promoting distinct brand identity and driving sales.
Universities file patents to promote the success of their research and students. This is, after all, a crucial driver of reputation, especially for institutions specializing in science and technology. Additionally, the public accessibility of patents allows them to serve as a vital marketing tool in countries where post-secondary education is often privatized such as the United States. Typically, universities do not create or sell products directly, opting to license their patents to corporations instead.
Once inventions are disclosed or logo designs are validated by the organizations that created them, they are turned over to law firms or in-house legal teams. These legal professionals advise on IP strategy and manage the day-to-day legal responsibilities: patent or trademark prosecution, prior art searches, claims, writing and filing documents and maintaining correspondence with IP offices. They must also anticipate oppositions during prosecution and keep their clients updated on all ongoing processes.
Once IP rights are granted or registered, the law firm or IP team gets involved again if litigations or other legal procedures become necessary to defend them.
KPIs to monitor
Some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) IP stakeholders consider are essentially raw numbers with surface meaning. Other KPIs require more time to explore due to their multifaceted natures. Some statistics belonging to the former group include:
- Number of inventions or ideas (over time / per technology / per inventor, etc.)
- Number of filed inventions vs. number of disclosed inventions
- Number of priority filings vs. number of disclosed inventions
- Number of innovations with at least one granted patent or trade secret vs. total sum of disclosed inventions
Though a certain level of industry acumen is needed to make the best use of these figures, prosecution- performance- and cost analyses require a bit more nuance. For example, reviewing cost drivers entails an examination of the involved personnel as well as the number of office actions. From this, the cost and time per attorney, their success rates, plus any fees paid to IP offices and other external agents must be determined. In all, a host of questions must be answered to gain a penetrating overview of these KPIs. How many times did examiners call for an element of a filing to be updated or changed? How much time passed between the creation of the IP and its application filing, publication and grant / registration dates, respectively? How many people were involved, externally and internally?
Another notable contrast in the complexity of analyzing one aspect of IP management compared to another is licensing vs. portfolio performance. The former is largely straightforward in that the appropriate indicators are empirical:
- The number and value of licensing agreements
- Revenue generated via licensing per IP right
- Licensing return on investment (ROI) – prosecution costs subtracted from revenue generated via licensing
On the other hand, determining the performance of individual IP rights can be a labyrinthine practice, but it is essential for genuinely comprehensive IP management.
- Status & market coverage: IP rights families must be examined per jurisdiction in conjunction with the use or disuse of trademarks.
- Portfolio growth: Here, the key correlation is filings vs. grants / registrations over time. It is also possible to measure filings and grants per technology type, business branch, market or jurisdiction.
- Maintenance costs: Renewal fees and annuities per jurisdiction, technology or branch and costs for defense actions are the significant numbers here.
- Life cycle analysis: Understanding the time between the grant or registration and the expiration or abandonment of an IP right aids future prosecution efforts by unlocking areas of inefficiency in the process. Business departments can then be informed in good time of upcoming expirations and renewals, granting them sufficient notice to adjust their strategies and implement their decisions.
- ROI: As mentioned, clear-cut but vital statistic.
IP law professionals have their own sets of statistics to monitor:
- Headcount vs. client volume
- Incoming workload (number and type of requests from clients, received inventions)
- Number of first filings leading to grants / registrations
- Cases / managed portfolio size per client
- Average revenues per client, activity and attorney
- Time between filing and grant
- Cost and revenue balance (service fees, official fees and billed amount per client and case)
- Practice areas per client (most common jurisdictions and industries) – this allows for the reassignment of staff and their capabilities to suit clients' needs
Proper analysis of these figures is nothing short of indispensable. Hence, this is where the strength of a versatile IP management software solution comes into its own.
Portfolio analytics with DIAMS iQ
The Dennemeyer team recently updated our renowned IP management software, DIAMS iQ, with integrated analytics modules. These provide invaluable data visualization and analysis tools while ensuring maximum security – a must when working with sensitive information. Our KPI dashboards refresh automatically while allowing users to filter data and deep-dive into key metrics to explore specific areas of their portfolio.
In the next phase, we will further enhance DIAMS iQ's analytical capabilities with advanced features like custom dashboards, automated live reporting and the cross-analysis of portfolio data with relevant input from external systems, e.g., customer relationship management (CRM) data and sales and supply chain information. All of these features empower more accurate decision-making and sharpen the oversight of your organization's most valuable asset: its innovative capacity.
Book a DIAMS iQ demonstration now to get to grips with our revolutionary software and catch a glance at the upcoming analytics functionalities.
This article was first published on IP Service World's blog, November 17, 2021.
No matter their industry, all commercial assets are wont to be touched by time and the fickle winds that varyingly drive and buffet the marketplace.