Home Patent Analysis: A Window into the future

The article focuses on the importance of patent research and how innovators can utilize patent insights to predict what, how, and when the change will happen and who may lead the change

Patent research is an invaluable tool to understand the momentum of a trend. While, of course, patent research can be utilized to spot something brand new, it can also give you a glimpse into whether a trend ‘will’ plateau or decline in the not-too-distant future. 

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The beauty of the publicly filed patent 

Patents are a goldmine for insight and the beauty is in the transparency of their information. A patent is an exclusive right given to a new piece of innovation, invention, product, or process. To have the innovation protected means the company or body behind the patent must disclose technical information to the public.  

James Dyson once said: 

“If you didn’t have patents, no one would bother to spend money on research and development. But with patents, if someone has a good idea and a competitor can’t copy it, then that competitor will have to think of their own way of doing it. So then, instead of just one innovator, you have two or three people trying to do something in a new way.” 

This is exactly where FutureBridge plays. Patent research is at the heart of our insight programming. The FutureBridge in-house team of scientists and industry experts are masters at finding the holy grail underneath an immense volume of patent filings and technical processes. Not only can they identify a potentially disruptive development, but the team can also inform the client base on ‘how’ a patent can be embedded into an organization’s innovation pipeline.  

There is a melting pot of patents and early-stage research out there. Some are worth noting and others are worth archiving. The potential insight is invaluable. Companies do not file patents on a whim. Patents are filed when there is a genuine ‘potential’ benefit at stake. And the beauty of patents is in how they are categorized. Through analysis of simple parameters such as keywords, to spotting collaborations between major global players and disruptive but small inventors, to the simple act of finding a technology that breaks the status quo. All these parameters can help innovators to prepare, react, and stay ahead of the game.  

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The simple act of keyword analysis

Patent research is primarily an immense data tool for technical and disruptive innovation. However, analysis of simple keyword mentions in patents can also be a quite simple approach to tracking trends and forecasting future moves. 

For example, the data in fig.2 shows that, while pea protein-related patent filings had been growing rapidly until 2020, it could imply that the bubble has burst. This simple research gives the industry useful food for thought. Is pea protein running out of fashion? Have innovators moved onto new protein ingredients? Has the pea reached its peak?  

Next, FutureBridge’s in-house scientists and experts leverage this as a research base and look to analyze and demonstrate how pea protein features in newer patent filings. Could the patents of 2021 be offering more promise and value than the 820 patents of 2020? We look to understand ‘how’ pea protein is being utilized in these patent filings, tracking whether innovative technologies or industry-changing technologies are being spotted, and the companies behind them.  

Patent analysis with technical expertise 

Patent filings are only submitted with the knowledge that they contain something worth protecting. In many cases protection is given to something quite intricate, innovative, disruptive, or game-changing. If we continue with this theme of pea protein it is important to analyze what innovations the alternative protein industry is demanding. Like pea protein, chickpea protein is also witnessing a strong period of exploration in the plant-based space. The FutureBridge team is constantly monitoring innovative technologies and developments that promote taste, texture, cookability, and scalability i.e., replicating the real thing in experience and on the consumer’s bank balance.  

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The patent spotlighted (Fig.3) highlights how, using a technical process named mechanical fractionation, chickpea protein can be manipulated to produce chicken-like meat with muscle, skin, and bones. The patent explains how you can take different plant types e.g., leaves, stems, roots, fruits, and seeds, and arrange them ‘in a linear  fiber formation and organizing into layered bundles of varied sizes. This creates, not only the desired texture but also the cooking properties such as grill lies and color change. But what does all this mean and what do you do now? With a process like mechanical fractionation, we may finally have a solution for a non-meat meat experience. It is now time to watch and wait, monitor future investment and commercial partnerships, and be prepared for exciting innovation.  

Patents and early-stage technology publications give thinkers and innovators a view of how trends and industry segments will develop well into the future, potentially well before a consumer need state has even appeared. Patent research gives innovators an invaluable opportunity to prepare and react in a swiftly moving industry and remain on the cutting edge of the future of our food systems. 

References 

  1. James Dyson – Wired 
  2. Google patents 
  3. EspaceNet 

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