The new technical solutions or new designs that a patent aims to protect are born of the technological innovation of technical experts. An enterprise’s commissioner for intellectual property (IP) should collaborate with technical experts to implement patent mining, including assisting technical experts in finding technological innovation, analysing, splitting, sorting and screening technological innovation technically and legally, and identifying the technological innovation ideas and technical solutions used to apply for a patent.
I: Patent docking with technical experts
The IP commissioner should work with technical experts to retain and demonstrate innovative thinking of them in the enterprise’s development process. For those new technical experts who have never or infrequently contacted with patents, the IP commissioner needs to timely answer their questions with the help of vivid cases of technological development and the status of patent protection. For those interdisciplinary complex technical experts, the IP commissioner can stimulate their creative thinking, and assist them in providing technical information of high-quality patents.
Technical experts are the fountain of technological innovation. Good docking between the IP Commissioner and technical experts ensures the flow and clarity of the fountain, fundamentally promoting the sound development of the patent system, from which support can be drawn to promote scientific and technological progress.
II. Patent mining runs throughout the technological development process
The innovative ideas of technical experts only comes by accident, and the IP commissioner can prompt them to timely write down the ideas used for solving problems when they have them in mind. The innovative points may also provide them with new ideas for solving problems in the future. Particular emphasis should laid on technological mining that runs throughout the patent development process.
The IP commissioner’s patent mining process can be shown in Figure 2 below: the communication and sortation of technical contents shown in S1S2 is based on the sufficient technical understanding of the IP commissioner. The documentation created for innovative solutions in S3S5 is based on the IP commissioner’s exact command of the patent system. Particular attention should be paid to the interaction and collaboration with technical experts in the process of tracking the development progress and extracting innovative solutions (S4).
III. Patent mining documents
Product or R & D projects typically embody the hard work of many technical experts and incorporates many technical solutions.The IP commissioner needs to manage a number of innovative solutions to maximize the protection of intellectual property rights of the enterprise. It is recommended the following three types of documents be established in the patent mining process: documents of the overall progress of patent mining; documents of the course of innovative solutions; documents of the appraisal results of the innovative solutions.
As is shown in Figure 3, documents of the overall progress of patent mining are used to briefly describe the progress of each innovative solution, for example, in the stage of technical disclosure by the inventor, stage of patent review or patent drafting.
Documents of the course of innovative solutions are used to record all the technical contents included in the patent mining process and deliberations on the intellectual property. The documents can also record the raw materials in respect of technologies and intellectual property protection; and with the help of them the focus of innovation and relevant impact on the product can be determined. Accordingly, examination of patent applications and IP right’s maintenance can be done without the participation of technical experts.
Documents of the appraisal results of the innovative solutions, for example, consist of three parts: summary, essentials of the review program and innovative technical solutions. Comprehensive documentation can facilitate effective management of the intellectual property of an enterprise, and provide good support for subsequent patent applications.
IV. Two other considerations
1: Intellectual property protection is a systematic work, which requires not only the concerted efforts of technical experts and IP commissioners, but also the support of enterprise system and corporate culture. Favourable enterprise system and corporate culture can promote lasting innovation enthusiasm and initiative of technical experts.
2: Judge and weigh different types of patent applications. Patent of invention: good stability, long protection period. Utility model patent: fast authorization, short protection period. Design patent: the first impression left on a user, which should not be underestimated.
Patent mining is the foundation and source of the patent system, and the IP commissioner’s intensive cultivation and good collaboration with technical experts can fundamentally promote the healthy development of the patent system. Therefore, an enterprise should continuously strengthen patent mining on the basis of their specific needs.