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About Us

Unleashing the strategic value of patents

Cipher’s mission is to enable patent owners to make rational decisions by providing strategic patent intelligence, powered by machine learning.

We are part of the community that promotes the importance of patents as strategic assets that deliver value to an organisation.  We provide Solutions to the strategic challenges facing patent owners.

Our Story

Cipher was founded by Nigel Swycher (CEO) and Steve Harris (CTO) in 2013 to harness the latest developments in AI and machine learning to automate recognised inefficiencies in the aggregation, analysis and visualisation of data relating to the ownership and use of patents.

Initially, Cipher was focused on analysing and comparing patent owning companies. In 2017 we invented Cipher Classifiers, a new and improved way to map patents to technologies using supervised machine learning.

This breakthrough made it possible to establish objective and repeatable ways to communicate both the risk and value associated with patents to IP leaders, the board and the investor community more broadly.

Cipher is recognised as the leading provider of strategic patent intelligence to major patent owning organisations.

On 31 March 2023, Cipher became part of LexisNexis Intellectual Property.

Where it started

Why Cipher

Trained by humans, built by machine to give you independently verified accuracy

“Cipher’s classifiers enable you to understand the patent landscape or analyze a portfolio. Combining expertise in both IP and data science, Cipher provides you with solutions to the strategic problems patent owners face, with quick and accurate results.” Erik Oliver, Richardson Oliver Insights

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Leadership Team

Nigel Swycher podcast host Cipher Vision

Nigel Swycher – CEO

Nigel is CEO and co-founder of Cipher. Nigel’s background is as an IP lawyer, having been a partner at Slaughter and May, London for 20 years.  Throughout his career Nigel has focused on the creation, defence and exploitation of IP assets, and helping companies, their advisers and investors understand the importance of intangible assets. Nigel is a director of ORoPO (the Open Register of Patent Ownership) and is a recognised as an expert by the IAM Strategy 300.

Steve Harris – CTO

Steve is the co-founder and responsible for the design and implementation of Cipher. Previously he was CTO of a UK-based FinTech startup, Garlik, until its sale to Experian in 2011. Steve was a researcher at the University of Southampton, specialising in Artificial Intelligence, Information Extraction, and Graph Databases. Steve advises the UK Government and European Commission.  In 2020 Steve was recognised as an expert by the IAM Strategy 300.

Stewart Hogg – CRO

Stewart leads the Commercial arm of Cipher, managing the Sales, Customer success and Marketing teams, responsible for delivering revenue.  He has run commercial teams, previously as Head of Sales and Marketing at Maplecroft for 4 years.  Prior to that he was at Wood Mackenzie for 12 years, where he held sales leadership positions in Europe and US, launching the sales effort in New York around Institutional Investors.  He started his career at Jobsite.

Niall McMahon
Head of Research

Niall leads the team working on integrating strategic patent intelligence solutions into client workflows. He has over 20 years experience in research and analysis, specifically covering upstream oil & gas, energy markets and above ground risk. Niall was Senior VP Head of Research with Verisk Maplecroft.  Previous to that Niall was Head of Investment Research with Wood Mackenzie in New York.

Francesca-Levoir podcast host cipher vision

Francesca Levoir
Head of Marketing

Francesca is responsible for building awareness of the Cipher brand and lead generation. She worked at Wood Mackenzie for 16 years in Marketing, building teams in Asia and Europe; focusing on building brands in new markets, product launches,  acquisitions and developing new business leads for sales.  Her Marketing career started at Procter & Gamble.

Cipher as part of the Community

Oropo logo


Cipher is a founding member of the Open Register of Patent Ownership (ORoPO), which is committed to improving the data quality around patent ownership.

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PAE risk

Cipher is a member of LOT Network as we believe that patents should encourage innovation and not litigation. Read our report on the LOT Network portfolio.

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Cipher supports academic programmes to expand understanding of intellectual property including CIP at Gothenburg and Berkeley Universities and Skoltech.

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Mitigating Patent Risk

We work with organisations such as AST and OIN to promote patents as strategic assets, by promoting the message through a number of channels.

Contact Us

Find out more about opportunities at Cipher or contact us to find out more about Cipher


Details about working at Cipher and the current roles we have available. We are currently seeking two Solutions Analysts.
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Contact us

Arrange a callback with one of our experts to discuss how Cipher can assist with your patent portfolio.
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Recent highlights

From reports to case studies to podcasts, we’re regularly offering industry insights and providing quality content for IP and patent professionals.

Promoting SEPs Transparency

Episode 5 in the Cipher Vision Podcast series features Tim Pohlmann, CEO, LexisNexis IPlytics. He joins us to discuss the world of SEPs, from areas of conflict to new opportunities.
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IPBC Global 2023

We are looking ahead to a fantastic event in San Diego. IPBC Global will take place from 12 to 14 June and brings together leading IP professionals.
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Game Over for the West?

Our report looking at patent owners of gaming technology found that Japanese firms dominated but it also uncovered some unexpected trends.
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The increasing importance of IP

How intellectual property (IP) moved into the business mainstream, as seen from the perspective of guests on the Cipher Vision Podcast.
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Content-Generating AI

OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot has been a sensation since its launch. Our report looks at published patents across Content Generative AI to identify key innovators and invention owners in this space.
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With Cipher you can…

Portfolio Optimisation connecting cogs

Optimise your portfolio

Ensure you have the right portfolio to meet your strategic patenting objectives.

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Competitive Intelligence

Gather competitor intelligence

Understand who’s doing what by automating patent to technology mapping.

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Cross Licensing

Model cross licensing

Combine patent and revenue data to determine rational licensing outcomes.

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Manage your budget

Justify patent budgets and communicate the impact of your investment.

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Conduct due diligence

Automate manual reviews for efficient execution of M&A and licensing transactions.

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Tackle inbound patent assertion

Be prepared with evidence to create a fast and effective threat assessment.

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Benchmark your portfolio

Assess your portfolio in comparison to other owners through your technology lens.

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Monetise your portfolio

Identify opportunities to create value through licensing or sale of patent assets.

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Predict technology trends

Track new technologies and discover the unknown owners of future innovation.

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Create Risk Mitigation Strategies

Understand the materiality of your threats to define your risk mitigation strategy.

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Cipher Vision Podcast

Cipher’s monthly podcast, Cipher Vision is now into its third season.  Each episode has co-hosts Nigel Swycher (CEO) and Francesca Levoir (Head of Marketing) and a notable guest discuss an IP or patents-related topic.

Guests have covered a range of subjects, from valuation and sustainability through to diversity and machine learning.

Cipher Vision episodes are under 25 minutes and are ideal to listen to during a short break or journey.

Cipher Vision podcast index

Promoting SEPs Transparency

Episode 5 in the Cipher Vision Podcast series features Tim Pohlmann, CEO, LexisNexis IPlytics. He joins us to discuss the world of SEPs, from areas of conflict to new opportunities.
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Protecting Innovation with Director Vidal

Episode 4 in Season 3 features Director Kathi Vidal of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, who shares her thoughts on how we can improve the innovation ecosystem.
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The Patent Market

Episode 3 in Season 3 features Kent Richardson, CEO, Richardson Oliver insights joined us to share the inside scoop on the patent market, from who is buying and selling and the price, to what the future holds.
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At War With Cybersecurity

Episode 2 in Season 3 features Jared Engstrom, Senior Director, IP Strategy at CrowdStrike joined us to discuss how pivotal patents are to a strategic security strategy.
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Innovation-led Sustainability

Episode 1 in Season 3 features Gregorio Ossola, Head of Corporate Solutions at one.five. Greg shared with us the importance of a data-led approach to sustainability.
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Communicating the Impact of Innovation

In our holiday special, Episode 11, Season 2, our hosts Francesca and Nigel introduce a medley of the best snippets from Series 2. Tune in to enjoy our highlights and key takeaways.
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Cipher on Twitter

How dominant is #Japan when it comes to #gametech? Our recent #patent analysis, Game Over for the West?, identified four unexpected trends. Discover what these are by downloading our report now: #IP #patents #patentsearch #machinelearning #gaming
On #WorldEnvironmentDay we’ve identified the Top #Patent *Owners* in Sustainable Plastic Technologies since 2003. @mcgc_en and @BASF feature. Full report (…) on our website. Visualised with @f_l_o_u_r_i_s_h #plastics #greentech #IP
For #WorldEnvironmentDay our Universal Technology Taxonomy tracked the Top *Innovators* in #Sustainable #Plastic Technologies since 2003. Get the full report ( from our site. Visualised with @f_l_o_u_r_i_s_h #patents  #greentech
On #WorldEnvironmentDay we’ve identified the Top #Patent *Owners* in #Sustainable Plastic Technologies since 2003. @mcgc_en and @BASF feature. Full report (…) on our site. Visualised with @f_l_o_u_r_i_s_h #plastics #GreenTech #IP
On #WorldEnvironmentDay our Universal Technology Taxonomy has tracked the Top *Innovators* in #Sustainable Plastic Technologies since 2003. Get the full report ( from our site. Visualised with @f_l_o_u_r_i_s_h #patents #plastics
Would YOU say that #intellectualproperty is essential as part of a #businessstrategy? Guests on our #CipherVision Podcast are pretty convinced that it should be. Read our article with quotes now: #IP #patents #business
FAO delegates at #IPBCGlobal (12 – 14 June, San Diego). While we have a booth for walk-up visitors, we can book you in for a platform introduction meeting to demonstrate how Cipher can boost your #patent portfolio. Reserve your slot: #IP #patents #AI
@Pcast_ol Our latest podcast (23 mins) is for those with an interest in #patents:
Is #intellectualproperty becoming more widely accepted in #business? We’ve collated comments from a selection of guests who have shared their wisdom on the #CipherVision Podcast. See if you agree by reading the article now: #IP #patents

Insights and Case Studies

Intellectual Property Strategy

Having an Intellectual Property strategy is key for all growing organisations today
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Red Hat on using the Cipher Optimisation Model

Jared Engstrom, Head of Patent Development, talks about the growth in Red Hat’s portfolio, how he has used Cipher’s custom classifiers and how the Cipher Optimisation model has improved their understanding of the competitive landscape.
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IAM 300

Steve Harris joins Nigel Swycher as part of the IAM 300 IP Strategists.
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Improve your patent strategy now

Speak to the Cipher team today.

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