Launch Cipher

Case Study | BorgWarner

26th March 2019 | Leave a comment

 

 

The huge advantage of Cipher is the speed of getting relevant business information – how much my competitors are spending, what do my competitors own.

With Cipher in a few hours, I can produce a report that used to cost me $20,000 to do on the outside, and it’s far more relevant and useful than the $20,000 report I used to pay for.

Chris Kowalsky (CK), Technical Product Lead and Patent Strategy at BorgWarner

 

Please describe your role?

BorgWarner is divided into two groups – Drivetrain and Engine and I’m working with the Drivetrain group. My role includes patent vetting and IP strategy. This includes advising on forecasting and patenting strategy and driving the business towards more and more strategic use of intellectual property. The emergence of electrification is introducing new challenges, because we are moving into areas where we need a combination of developed and acquired IP to function.

I have been in the auto industry for about 30 years, the last 20 with BorgWarner. About 5 years ago, I saw a need for strategic IP management in the company and that led me to pursue a Masters in Intellectual Asset Management.

 

What’s the difference between IP tactics and strategy and why is it important?

You have to pay more attention to what you’re patenting and how you’re patenting and to take a close look at the relevance of your portfolio. If a technology has advanced beyond your patents in a specific area, it may make no sense to keep them – and the related expense. There were times when patents were treated as treasures that you locked up and you just kept paying for. In a more strategic world, a patent has to be an asset that helps the company. You need to manage the asset in a way that maximises its value rather than just keeping everything.

I’m one of the key players driving the agenda to develop a more strategic way to protect IP. We are getting to the point where the stakeholders are able to see how they’re performing vs their key competitors in the field. Ideally, we will be able to gauge our IP strategy and how it’s changed from our plans made just a few years ago – to see where we are with reference to our competitors now and then make adjustments going forward. The goal is to align our IP strategy with our business strategy.

 

What is the most important metric that BorgWarner focuses on?

Cost is the key. That’s the start, When you’re talking to your management, they are always looking at costs. Once you’ve got people on cost management, then you can start moving into other areas.

 

Any tips you can share of how best to make savings?

I think more can be saved through efficient filing strategies than through abandoning patents. In the studies that we’ve conducted in the last year studying the IP that we have, it’s come out that 50-60% of your costs are paid out in that first few years. Being more careful and efficient in that area makes more of a difference than all the pruning you might do.

What’s particularly interesting about the Cipher data is that I can access analysis which our accounting teams do not have readily available.

 

Cipher includes a taxonomy of over 200-patented technologies. What’s your experience of working with Cipher’s AI classifiers?

It’s brilliant once you understand the method, what’s going on – it’s actually a rather simple system to work with. At the start, someone has to help the AI learn, and the tools inside the software allow you to select patents and choose ones that are more relevant which makes the process easy – you still have to do some reading, but it’s technical skills, not patent search skills. The key here is that Cipher delivers better results without having to acquire a complete education in patent language.

The thing that Cipher software is going to be the most powerful for is the fact that anyone can pick this up, and extract really interesting information about patented technologies. I think it is phenomenal, but you’ve got to get everyone to the point that they know they can get this information from IP. There’s some education to do and you’ve got to convert them to understand.

 

What’s wrong with existing patent tools?

We have used a lot of database tools. They are able to find patents, but it takes a lot of skill to drill down and locate the ones you are looking for. For example, if I want to look up a style of transmission then getting through the language and finding out what various companies call that technology is a difficult task. Searching on patent codes isn’t reliable because of the different patent codes used by different patent offices.

With the AI involved with Cipher and in particular the classifiers, we’re able to get to the relevant sets of patents much faster than in the past. By using Cipher’s classifiers, any manager, anyone with the engineering skill, can drill into a set of patents and find the information they need much faster than in the past.

 

How does patent data help with competitive intelligence?

The interesting thing is that IP is the only legal source of information that you can acquire that gives you the insight into what your competitors are thinking and where your competitors are going. If I look at a competitor patent that’s filed on an emerging technology I have an idea of what they’re working on, how they manufacture and whether it’s likely that they will progress to production with something. I probably can get a 2-3 year advantage on what the new thing is that a competitor is planning to come up with.

 

What are the benefits of using Cipher Automotive?

The huge advantage of Cipher is the speed of getting relevant business information – how much my competitors are spending, what do my competitors own.

With Cipher in a few hours, I can produce a report that used to cost me $20,000 to do on the outside, and it’s far more relevant and useful than the $20,000 report I used to pay for. I outsourced a patent landscape a few years ago and all they could do was give me a pile of patents that they think are relevant – that was pretty useless. Unless I was willing to read through everything, I don’t know what I was expected to do with that. Now, I’m using Cipher classifiers to do my landscapes, and then share them with management and can say here’s what’s going on, here’s who the players are. That’s now something that anyone can access in an instant.

You have a wonderful tool.

Read more about the value of Cipher Automotive in the Mahle Case Study. 

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