We Have a Passion for IP

2013/6/27By Monica Zhang, China IP,[Patent]

—Interview with Cynthia Murphy, Senior Vice President & General Manager for Thomson Reuters IP Solutions
 
Thomson Reuters should be a familiar name to the Chinese IP community, since both sides of the business have accumulated years of experience in China. The merger of Thomson and Reuters several years ago combines Thomson’s strong information management with Reuters’ media edge, giving the company a prominent advantage. “The cultural combination has been very complementary,” said Cynthia Murphy, Senior Vice President & General Manager for Thomson Reuters IP Solutions, and we can see her point through the acclaimed products that the company has launched and the various activities with which it has been involved.
In September, Thomson Reuters attended the “Patent Information Annual Conference of China 2012” and hosted the “2012 IP Solutions Conference for Patent Analysis and Competitive Intelligence.” In October, it released the Chinese interface for Thomson Innovation. This is just the beginning; Thomson Reuters looks to do even more in China. “The Chinese market is incredibly important to us,” said Ms. Murphy.
How does Thomson Reuters predict how IP trends will develop in China? What are the company’s next moves? A China IP journalist interviewed Ms. Murphy for the answers.
 
Forecasting China’s IP Future
China IP: It is common to see the label “Made in China” on various products all throughout the world; however, in the high-end market, there are few well-known Chinese brands. What do you think is the biggest issue facing China in its efforts to shift from “Made in China” to “Designed in China?”
Ms. Murphy: In 2011, China became the world’s top patent-filing country surpassing the U.S. and Japan and the growth trajectory is nothing short of eye-popping. Today, so much of what is happening in China is still about local filings and incremental innovation through utility models. The incentives and activity supporting the 12th Five-Year Plan are encouraging the shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy and will likely drive truly novel innovation. As Chinese enterprises increase the value they ascribe to their IP, they will increase protection activity—or patent filings—in the world’s other big economies, including the U.S., Germany and Japan, which will lead to increased global influence. Today, U.S. companies protect nearly 50% of their inventions internationally and Japanese companies protect nearly 40% of their patents outside of Japan, compared to less than 10% of Chinese patents being protected internationally. I think the most significant statistic to measure against to see progress in the shift to “Designed in China” is the number of citations to Chinese patents coming from inventors or scholarly researchers in other countries. With the keen focus in China on the seven strategic emerging industries, those are the ones to watch first for increased global influence.
China IP: Recent years have witnessed a large volume of patent applications from Chinese enterprises, but there is not a single Chinese enterprise included in the Top 100 Innovators listed by Thomson Reuters. What were your criteria for choosing the “Top Innovators?”
Ms. Murphy: There are four criteria used to compile the Top 100 Innovators. The first is the volume of patent applications. We look at organizations that have a minimum of 100 patents in the past two years. That volume is a starting point that many Chinese organizations have achieved. Second, we look at the ratio of applications to granted patents during the last three years. This ratio tells us whether the applications are high quality and we consider it a measure of success. The third criterion is influence—that is, how often an organization’s patents are cited by other organizations over a ten-year period. Self-citations are excluded from this analysis. Finally, we also evaluate the global nature of an organization’s pat counting the number of quadrilateral patents in their patent families. We measure that by looking at the number of patents with family members in China, Japan, the EU and the U.S.
China IP: Can you name some Chinese enterprises that you think could be the first ones to be regarded as “Top Innovators?”
Ms. Murphy: Well, it is difficult to predict which organizations will be named to the Top 100 Innovators List, but perhaps enterprises operating in one of the seven strategic emerging industries will be among the first Chinese organizations to be included. Patent filing volume in each of these seven sectors is outperforming volume in traditional industries and more of the patents from the strategic emerging industries are also being filed outside China in the U.S., Japan and Europe. In each of the seven strategic emerging industries, including energy and information technology, we are seeing a steady stream of innovation coming from China.
China IP: What are your predictions about the overall development of China’s IP industry over the next 5 years?
Ms. Murphy: Everywhere I go in China, I see a lot of focus on IP and innovation—from government agencies to universities to industry. What’s especially interesting to me are the detailed targets the Chinese government has established – such as the goal to file 2 million domestic patent applications by 2015. And, the goal to quadruple patent applications in foreign countries by 2020. It’s impressive to see this level of specificity in the targets and the initiatives that support attainment of the goals, such as the rewards or incentives for inventors. As industry IP activity accelerates, it will be essential that the infrastructure keep pace with timely review and examination of patent applications. And, as the economic value of IP in China increases, the systems that support protection and assertion of rights will likely evolve.
 
China Is an Important Market
China IP: As a leading information provider worldwide, Thomson Reuters has been very active in China’s IP industry this year. It has held many conferences and meetings. How does Thomson evaluate the Chinese market?
Ms. Murphy: China is the world’s second largest economy and the growth in patent filings is outpacing the rest of the world. Those two data points alone would make the Chinese market important to Thomson Reuters. It’s the government’s 12th Five-Year Plan, though, that really excites us about the Chinese market. Based on our global market experience, we think our products and services plus our IP specialist team may be uniquely positioned to help organizations in the strategic emerging industries accelerate innovation, increase world-wide influence and better manage commercialization of their ideas.

Protect Intellectual Assets

China IP: In the next few years, how does Thomson Reuters plan to carry out more in-depth involvement with China’s IP industry?

Ms. Murphy: We will continue to partner with Chinese organizations to help them transform their businesses to accelerate growth through attainment of their unique innovation goals. One way that we are doing this today is by helping our clients do a state-of-the-art search for a specific area of interest and then by helping them analyze the results using ThemeScape, one of our text-mining and visualization tools that clusters results into categories and displays information in two dimensions—with a look that resembles a topographic map. Very quickly, someone looking at a ThemeScape map can identify patterns in patent activity and then drill down for more detailed investigation. For example, if you did a state-of-the-art search for new energy (one of the seven strategic emerging industries identified in the 12th Five-Year Plan), using ThemeScape, you could isolate clusters of activity in car batteries and look at shifts in patent activity over time to identify new entrants or to examine competitor activity. A client may also use ThemeScape to pinpoint white space or areas of opportunity adjacent to an area of strength—and that can help inform decisions about how to re-direct R&D resources to potential new areas of growth. While some clients prefer to do their own analysis, others turn to us to produce reports in Word or PowerPoint with Excel backup files. It is our intention to continue to work with Chinese enterprises to help them capitalize on sectors of strength and discover adjacencies with opportunity for accelerated growth.
 
Managing Experiences
China IP: Since its establishment in 2008, Thomson Reuters has been a leader in the area of providing IP information. What do you think are the key factors to Thomson Reuters’ success? Could you share with us some of Thomson Reuters’ successful experiences?
Ms. Murphy: I think there are a few very simple things that are critical to our success. The first is that we keep the customer at the center of our decision-making process. From our editorial operations to product development to service delivery, our teams actively listen to clients, systematically records their ideas and uses a data-driven, outside-in approach when evaluating ideas.
Our people—the IP Solutions team—are at the heart of our success. We have a very deep and broad set of IP experiences. People on our team are scientists, chemists, lawyers and paralegals; collectively, we have participated in every aspect of the IP life cycle from the research and innovation stage through application and prosecution to maintenance and protection. We do a lot to encourage employee retention and satisfaction. Specifically, we have a strong talent development program which creates a path for employees to move laterally and upwards in the organization. We provide opportunities for our people to grow and develop in unique ways that highlight their specific interests and accentuate their talents. As a result, many of the folks in our IP office here in Beijing, as well as all around the world, have been with Thomson Reuters for a long time: 25% of the IP employees have been with the business for more than 10 years; 40% have been with the business more than 5 years.
The bottom line is that we have a passion for IP that sets us apart from competitors and it complements our focus on the customer in every decision that we make.
China IP: Thomson Reuters acquired MarkMonitor in July, and IP & Science President Chris Kibarian commented that the purchase was the beginning of revolutionary change for your department. Why is it revolutionary? How will it benefit Thomson Reuters?
Ms. Murphy: MarkMonitor is an online brand protection solution that is a natural complement to our industry-leading suite of trademark services. If you think about what has happened with the explosion of the Internet and ways of sharing information, one of the outcomes has been the increase in counterfeiting, piracy and Internet fraud. MarkMonitor helps organizations monitor how a brand is being used so that they can minimize their risk and protect their assets. Online brand theft such as counterfeiting and piracy cost companies millions of dollars a year in lost revenue; it’s a serious issue and that’s why MarkMonitor was a good acquisition for us. We consider it revolutionary because the service helps clients to manage their identity in new ways.
We continue to expand our services offerings across IP Solutions. We started by specializing in information management, but we do much more than that now. We consider ourselves an intelligent information service provider because we enable the integration of publicly available data with our editorially enhanced content combined with advanced analytics and tools that empower our customers to innovate and see the opportunities available to them more clearly. This is really our model for the future: bringing together IP content tools and services to provide the most comprehensive solutions that enable our clients to drive innovation and create maximum value from ideas.

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