Why Patent Data Matters

At first glance, patents may seem like long, intimidating, technical documents and it can be difficult to distinguish one patent from another. To simplify the complexity of patents, Patent Forecast provides a Patent Radian® for different technology areas. A Patent Radian® not only provides a high-level overview of patent activity in a given technology area, but it goes further by breaking down activity by year and in subcategories.

An easy way to see the advantages of the Patent Radian® is to look at the Consumer Sleep Patent Forecast®. First examining the patent activity over the past ten years, it is clear that Fitbit is the most active company in the sector and that its main focus is in the “Data Processing and Analytics” category. Further examination of the “Data Processing and Analytics” category (as shown in the image below) indicates that Fitbit has a plurality of documents spread across the subcategories with the only exception being the “smart alarm” subcategory. The “Detection” subcategory is Fitbit’s main area of activity, however, the activity starts to trail off around 2020. This raises the question of whether Fitbit stopped innovating in the “Detection” category or if it turned its attention to another technology. Similar trends can be found for both Philips and Samsung.

Looking back at the 10-year view of Fitbit’s patent activity, there are new publications appearing in the “Sensors” subcategories within the past few years. Taking a closer look at the “Sensors” category (as shown in the image below) shows that Fitbit has increased its activity, particularly in the “Heart Rate” category. Unsurprisingly, both Philips and Samsung are still among the top five active companies. The Patent Radian® shows that Samsung has a substantially lower total number of patent documents, however, within the past two years, it has had success and an uptick in patent activity in the “Cardiovascular” and “Multi-System” categories. Philips has also had an increase in the “Multi-System” category. The combination of these three companies shows that the patent space around data processing and analytics is getting more saturated, while the patent activity related to sensors shows that there is opportunity and interest related to sensors for consumer sleep technology.

Take a closer look at the other categories to see other trends that indicate changes in the technology development of major companies.