SURPRISING NEWS ABOUT PATENTS
Bibliometrics is a powerful new statistical tool that analyzes patent trends, helping savvy companies plan strategic direction and benchmark themselves against competitors. It scans patents and scientific research papers to discern which ones are the most important. The analysis, done by firms such as chi Research in Haddon Heights, N.J., and the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia, spots high-tech trends, checks competitors moves before they hit the marketplace, and helps companies plan acquisitions. Eastman Kodak Co. uses bibliometrics to follow the progress of top scientists at rival companies, checking to see if theyre being moved into hot new areas of research. Philips Electronics Co. has used patent analysis to track 30 rivals in 39 fields, from software to optical recording.
A bibliometric analysis (BW--Aug. 3) of 197 companies worldwide done especially for business week shows some surprising trends in corporate technological strengths. First, Japanese companies are hardly copycats any more. Of the top 10 entries overall, Japan has five, led by Toshiba. Second, U.S. companies are not flat on their backs when it comes to technology. The other five in the top 10 were all American: Kodak, IBM, General Motors, General Electric, and Motorola. Third, European companies are trailing badly with Philips ranking 12th.
Bibliometrics brings to light that Ford and GM are making a dramatic comeback by increasing technological strength faster than rivals such as Honda and Toyota. Although the link between technological strength and market performance is poorly understood, Detroit has been gaining market share recently.
Bibliometrics is a potent tool and a powerful reminder of the importance of not forsaking research and development--no matter how tough the times may be.