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At the award ceremony, Fraunhofer IAO will present a new digitalization index based on patent data


For the ninth year in a row, Fraunhofer IAO will recognize three companies that have implemented successful strategies and organizational structures for managing patents. This year, the institute will also unveil a new tool that uses patent data to rate how far companies have progressed along the digitalization path. Both the award ceremony and the presentation will take place at the Patente 2016 conference in Munich on March 1.

Which German companies are the best at safeguarding and applying their expertise? Fraunhofer IAO has the answers. Now in its ninth year, the IP Management Award recognizes the three companies that have implemented the most pioneering and successful patent management practices. They will receive their awards at the “Patente 2016” conference in Munich on March 1, 2016.

Digitalization puts IP rights front and center

“As digitalization advances, commercial property rights will play a much larger role in companies than ever before,” predicts Truong Le, an expert in IP rights at Fraunhofer IAO. For a simple product like a coffee cup, registering the design used to be enough.

But now in the digital age, coffee cups will come with sensors or a data connection, which will need to be covered by multiple patents. This increase in digital inventions will apply not only to the products themselves, but also to manufacturing processes and services such as electronic payment systems.

But how do you measure how far a company has gone in terms of digitalization? “At Fraunhofer IAO, we’ve developed a way of using patent data to measure the extent to which a company has realized its digitalization potential,” explains Le.

This “patent digitalization index” is a source of valuable information for a company’s decision-makers. “By evaluating large amounts of data, decision-makers can do much more than assess internal processes. They can also learn more about external competitive forces, such as direct competitors, and use these insights to make better strategic decisions,” says Le.

This is an example of just how much information about technology trends and competition can be extracted from patent documents.

“Patent digitalization index” provides input for technology and corporate strategies

In view of the explosion of digital data, the researchers are using a semi-automated method. They combine patent data with other business data – for instance, sales growth or R&D personnel resources – and this provides a basis for ranking a company’s technological position within a particular technology field. So with relatively little effort, the researchers can determine which companies are currently implementing digitalization in full and are greatly expanding their R&D resources.

For Patente 2017, winners will be chosen for the first time using the index

Researches can use the index to assess the progress of individual companies and also to compile a digitalization ranking list. Next year’s recipients of the IP Management Award are to be chosen based on results taken from the patent digitalization index.

Weitere Informationen:

Juliane Segedi | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

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