How Does Your Startup Idea Fit Into The Patent Landscape?

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Free website allows entrepreneurs to visualize how their ideas fit into the patent landscape.

By Anup Desai (Founder, Patent Unaverse)

Ever have an idea for a business and wonder what your competition is like? If you’re a person with entrepreneurial leanings like me, then you probably know what I’m talking about.

Typically, I start at a problem that I’m interested in solving, and arrive at a rough-draft solution to the “pain”. Then I Google to see if others have had a similar epiphany. Usually the problem is well recognized, but the solution may not be so clear.

Let’s say that now I have a unique solution, and I want to understand my competitive landscape and the competitive barriers (e.g. patents) that exist. After combing the Internet, should I proceed with seeking counsel from a patent attorney or a patent research service? Both tend to come at significant expense. Certainly, you could check a patent database, but this might not provide a complete picture, and leave you feeling a little uneasy.

My solution to this particular problem is Patent Unaverse. I created this free-to-use site so that entrepreneurs could visualize how their ideas fit into the patent landscape by industry. The website also has a wiki component that allows for continual input from registered users, thereby providing a platform for crowd-sourcing the arduous task of patent research.

Check out Patent Unaverse and use it as your patent query tool. Go the extra mile of assigning patents of interest to the industries that they most accurately represent, and help grow this site into something bigger – a “patent unaverse”!

Instructions for use:

  1. Visit Patent Unaverse.
  2. Register – Don’t worry; I DO NOT want your full name, SS#, or any other piece of information that’s going to get me into trouble; just a user id and a valid email address.
  3. Look at the left side of the screen, and click on one of the industries that may be of interest to you;
    you’ll see a visualization of your industry at the center and patent filings branching off; actually at this point, you may not see any patents; I’m counting on you ( plural – “the crowd”) to enter some of the connections between patents (i.e. their assignees) and the industries that they serve.
  4. Type some keywords into the query bar at the top of the screen; as soon as a list of patents appear, look for the drop-downs next to the patents of interest and pick the relevant industries; this area will allow you to edit the connections between patents and the industry served; This feature also lets you see the more in-depth patent description at Google Patents – just click on the Google link. Now you’re crowd-sourcing the patent landscape!
  5. The links for “Legal Disclaimer” and “Contact Webmaster” are self-explanatory; if you have any suggestions or comments, please email me; Once I shake up some more money, I hope to make the website more user-friendly and robust.
  6. An important note: the website ONLY lists patents that have been filed and issued in the last 20 years.
  7. Of course, click on the share buttons and let your friends and followers know about the site.

If you’re having trouble with the site, please let me know at [email protected]. This is only Release 1.0.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Anup Desai is the Founder of PatentUnaverse. He is a physician and entrepreneur in the Bay Area. In addition to seeing patients in various care settings, he has also completed piecemeal work for VCs, investment banks, incubators, and start-ups. He has a couple of his own healthcare patents in the USPTO database pending review. On a personal note, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family, and surfing down at Ocean Beach and Pacifica.