SAS has announced a new patent-finding programme that should help companies deal with the increasingly expensive and complex patent system.

SAS Innovation Analysis delivers patent intelligence to life sciences, high-tech, consumer packaged products and manufacturing firms that depend on comprehensive analyses of their own and their competitors’ patent rights, to make more informed strategic business decisions, the company explained.

Available now to customers worldwide, the system uses a concept-based pattern recognition algorithm to probe a 15TB database of patent submissions from virtually every patent office in the world. Going beyond existing software that offers only keyword search capabilities, it is designed to identify concepts with the same meaning; for instance, a search for "cup" would return patents relating to "cup", "glass", "tumbler", "goblet", "mug" and "containment vessel for consumable aqueous solutions" among others. This functionality aims to allow users to rapidly differentiate patents that contain true innovation from those that are simply functional forgeries using different words.

"Successful companies pay careful attention to the contribution of their intellectual assets to business performance," says Carol Rozwell, vice-president and research director, life sciences for Gartner. "Unfortunately, many firms with extensive patent portfolios have unexploited opportunities and unrecognised threats. A patent office mining solution brings these issues to light, and supports better, faster decision-making across the organisation."

SAS Innovation Analysis can play a key role in many facets of the business, it says, including:

  • New product development - Innovation Analysis quickly identifies opportunities and threats early in the research and development process, long before large expenditures are devoted to a project.
  • Mergers and acquisitions - it is designed to enable users to select potential merger and acquisition targets; uncover verifiable data that supports proper valuation; identify potential roadblocks in selling acquired products; and ensure that all critical patent rights can be secured.
  • Patent litigation and patent enforcement - it can quickly and cost-effectively find relevant prior art that could invalidate patents owned by a company or its competitors.

"Innovation is the lifeblood of every business, and patents play a critical role in protecting innovation," says Jim Davis, chief marketing officer of SAS. "In today’s high-tech business world, the stakes are huge, and the window of opportunity can close in the blink of an eye, so companies must have a single, comprehensive picture that fully probes the strengths and vulnerabilities of their own and their competitors' patents. SAS Innovation Analysis provides the insight to help executives to make strategic decisions relating to their patent rights."