How patent analytics enhanced Competitive analysis: The case of the cannabis-based start-up
Intelligence today is about using the collective knowledge of the organisation to reach an advantageous position in industry”
~~ Stevan Dedijer, the Father of Business Intelligence
Walmart launched its intelligent food system for produce in March 2018, it must not have come as a surprise to other players if they would have been tracking Walmart’s patent filings. The hints of Walmart working on such a product could be spotted seven months prior to the announcement.
However, the industry players only relying on market information gathered from market research could have been surprised. The reason being is that market research conducted for technological aspects is prone to miss crucial business insights due to the absence of technological information.
For companies that rely on technology to drive their growth, they should complement their market information that is coming from market research with technological information that could come from patent data – a publically available rich source of technical information.
Like in the WalMart scenario discussed above, market research conducted for technological aspects is prone to miss relevant information. But when it is mapped with patent data, it becomes a holistic competitive analysis and can cover most of the information relevant to gauge competitive scene.
The case of the technology-based start-up of cannabis
This study is based on a similar instant where if we wouldn’t have supplemented market information with technological aspects coming from patent research, we would have missed patent based business strategy of a firm.
Here is the whole story:
The case represents where we were working with one of the Cannabis companies that wanted to know:
- What technologies their competitors were using to enhance the taste of Cannabis.
- Along with this, our client also wanted to know if their competitors had patents on this tech or not.
While following the previous methodologies, we begin with the search and found a start-up Dhydra Technologies. The startup deploys the slow drying process for Cannabis to retain the natural terpenes in order to make it taste good.
Now, we have the technology and have to search for patents related to it.
Moving forward, we searched “Dhydra” in assignee on various databases including Derwent and Google Patents. But, the results were unexpected and most importantly irrelevant.
We tried other alternatives like searching by the name of the company’s CEO/founder (Greg Stromotich) and that led us to another company “NuWave”. We market searched to check if the company is linked to Dhydra Technologies but nothing satisfactory was found.
You must be wondering why we were looking for Dhydra patents. And that why not finding their patents was a signal and not noise.
The reason is that Dhydra mentions patenting their technology.
Now, we knew that their patents exist and we are very well known for “If it exists we will find it”. So, we have to find it anyway.
We added a few more logics and constraints in our search strings. This again led us to NuWave as before. We analyzed the patents by NuWave as found that the patents were disclosing the dehydration process very similar to Dhydra’s technology.
We could see that Dhydra Technologies and Nuwave are somehow connected. However, no explicit link was spotted.
It was clear to us that we needed to read between the lines, and find the seemingly unrelated dots and then had to connect them. It was very akin to solving a jigsaw puzzle. You work backward from a solution than logically moving forward from logics to logics and premises to premises.
The quest finally led us to two dots that fit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. We found the dots in the About Company sections of NuWave and Dhydra’s website which are as follows:
“Greg Stromotich founded NuWave Research Inc. in 2009 because there was a gap between the science of vacuum microwave dehydration (VMD) technology and the practical applications for industry.”
“In 2009 we formed a research company to invent and implement a vacuum-based dehydration process for plant materials. Nine years later we conducted a successful pilot of our process for a tier-one, licensed cannabis producer—a Canadian LP with global reach.”
To confirm the linkage, we decided to map the claims of NuWave patents with the Dhydra’s product. The claims and product features overlapped like butter on a hot bread — quick and all over.
The competitive analysis gets empower by including patent analytics. Guess, if we just relied on only one source of data. Chances are:
- We would have missed a hidden strategy of Dhydra to get their technology secured
- We could have easily removed the company from the list because of no patents.
But we used patent analytics to find the missing piece of the puzzle. This is just an example of how including patent analytics in a competitive analysis can provide you with an entirely new direction to explore.
Authored by: Rajneesh Rana, Research Analyst (Market Research)