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Portfolio Optimisation

How many patents are enough for your portfolio?

Patent Portfolio Optimisation

Patent experts believe a well-balanced patent portfolio reduces the risk of patent litigation. However, 81% of companies report that their portfolio is too big, too small or both.

Cipher provides you with efficient access to the data you need to calculate and communicate the balance between the cost of your portfolio, measured against the litigation threats faced by your organisation.

Key findings from our Portfolio Optimisation report

Over $40 billion is spent on patents each year, but less than 20% of companies report that their portfolio is the right size.

Source: “How many patents are enough” survey. Read full article
patent portfolio optimisation

Have you ever asked these questions about your patent portfolio?

Is our patent portfolio too big or too small or both (in different places)?

Most companies review their portfolio at least once a year. Balancing your budget with the changing requirements of the business is hard. It is frankly impossible without access to the right data and a model to plug it into.

How can I measure the impact of our portfolio if the primary objective is to neutralise threats from third parties?

The majority of companies agree that a well-balanced portfolio reduces the risk of patent litigation. Calculating your organisation’s exposure to patent risk requires an objective and repeatable model, which takes account of the changing patent landscape and relative revenues.

What’s the most efficient way to access the strategic patent intelligence I need?

Manual tagging and sorting of patents is slow and expensive. Advances in AI and Machine learning make it possible to both customise patent intelligence to your business and automate the calculation of the analysis required for sophisticated optimisation models.

If these are your issues, Cipher can help you.

With improvements in AI technology and other analytics platforms like Cipher, today we are able to understand the numbers of patents that are relevant to certain technology areas at a push of a button.

Jeremiah Chan, Head of Patents, Meta

How Cipher can optimise your portfolio


Classify patents by technology

Using Cipher classify your patents into technology areas, aligning to revenue and map competitors


Combine with revenue data

Combine with revenue data for both your organisation and your competitors


Run optimisation model

Plug the numbers into the SPI optimisation model, as shown in ‘How many patents are enough?’


Analyse and recommend

Analyse the areas of under and over-stocking and make evidence-based decisions

The goal is to avoid litigation. Having a decent sized portfolio provides the perfect protection for our products.

Daniel Hernandez, Intellectual Property Manager, Stryker

Portfolio Optimisation Report


Portfolio Optimisation

Key findings from our report

  • Over $40 billion is spent on patents each year, but less than 20% of companies report that their portfolio is the right size
  • Most patent experts believe that a well-balanced portfolio reduces the threat of patent litigation
  • Patent strategy is scrutinised by the CTO, CFO or board in most organisations
  • Organisations spend an average of 9% of their patent budgets on strategic patent intelligence

Want to understand the value of your patent assets?

Return on Investment (ROI) is a widely used measure of efficiency or profitability of an investment. Put simply, it identifies which parts of your portfolio are delivering value to your organisation and which are not. With $40 billion spent on patent portfolios each year, calculating the return of such a significant investment is critical.

Find out more here

The Cipher Optimisation Model has been great because it allows us to funnel our limited resources to the areas of higher strategic importance for our company in terms of technology and patent filings and everything in-between.

Jared Engstrom, Head of Patent Development, Red Hat

Insights and Events

Patent budgets triggered by Covid – cutting not wounding webinar

View our webinar that addresses the challenges of managing a patent budget in a recession.
Read more

Beyond portfolio optimisation – calculating the value of rightsizing

View our webinar discussing results of the Cipher Report on Portfolio Optimisation and the optimisation model that can help you balance your portfolio.
Read more

COVID 19: Mitigating the Impact of Patent Budget Cuts in Recession

Covid-19 has caused greater scrutiny of patent budgets and a need to cut costs – so where are you supposed to start?
Read more

Portfolio Optimisation Report – Key Findings

Hear from Google, Accenture, Facebook and many other large patent owning organisations in the full Cipher report. Take a look at what the world’s patent owning organisations are saying about balanced portfolios and the various strategic objectives served by those portfolios.
Read more

Case Studies

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.
Read more

ARM on classifiers and managing patent budgets

Rob Calico, VP Litigation and IP, discusses the challenges of managing a sophisticated portfolio in a fast-moving technology environment, and how Cipher has helped them manage their patenting strategy and budgets.
Read more

Richardson Oliver Insights on the challenges of IP Teams

COO of Richardson Oliver Insights, Erik Oliver, talks about the challenges faced by IP teams with managing high value portfolios and the increased demand for both better data and better ways to communicate the value of patents.
Read more

Portfolio Optimisation FAQs

Can the Optimisation Model be used for other strategic patent decisions?

Yes. Cipher subscribers have used the model to support cross-licensing (see 2019 article – AI for evidence based-decisions) and monitisation projects (where companies require dominance). Recently patent teams have been using Cipher intelligence to analyse the impact of budget constraints.

Do I have to use Cipher to tag our portfolio and competitor portfolios?

No. Historically internal patent teams have maintained their own taxonomies and tagging processes. Less than half of organisations report that they tag the patents owned by their competitor to products or technologies. Cipher automates the tagging of your own and third party assets, which is both quicker and cheaper.

Does the Cipher approach to optimisation ignore patent quality?

No. The model outlined in How Many Patents are Enough? includes subjective weightings for patent quality and also threat weighting. Users of the model often combine their models with traditional ‘pick lists’, but the advantage of the model is that it takes account of all your patents and all other patents relating to relevant technologies. There is universal acceptance that no one organisation owns all the good ones.

What support is available for setting up the model?

As much or as little as you need. The authors of the Cipher Report include the co-founders of Cipher, Nigel Swycher (CEO) and Steve Harris (CTO). Nigel and Steve routinely advise companies of the suitability of the model. Many of our customers also use consultants. Once the model is set up and fine-tuned, many organisations run the models without external support.

Is the output generated by the model right?

No. “All models are wrong, but some are useful” (George E. P. Box). What the model provides is objective and repeatable evidence to align your portfolio to your patent strategy.  And an objective and repeatable means of communicating to executives the direct relationship between patent cost, and its role in mitigating the risk of paying royalties and damages to third parties.

With Cipher you can also…

Competitive Intelligence

Gather competitor intelligence

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

Read more
Cross Licensing

Model cross licensing

Combine patent and revenue data to determine rational licensing outcomes.

Read more

Manage your budget

Justify patent budgets to CFOs and others to communicate the impact of your investment.

Read more

Conduct due diligence

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

Read more

Tackle inbound patent assertion

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

Read more

Benchmark your portfolio

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

Read more

Monetise your portfolio

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

Read more
Technology Trends icon

Predict Technology Trends

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

Read more

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

Why Cipher

Improve your patent strategy now

Speak to the Cipher team today.

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