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PatSnap, vendor of AI-powered intellectual property and research and development management software, raised $300 million in Series E funding, the company revealed on March 16.
Led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Tencent Investment, the funding round will enable PatSnap to boost its sales and marketing efforts while further advancing the technology behind its IP and R&D platforms.
Founded in 2007 in Singapore, PatSnap began as essentially an IP directory and has since grown its IP management capabilities with analytics and AI-based technologies, including computer vision, machine learning and natural language processing.
"IP management software is a niche but thriving segment of the enterprise software market," said Kashyap Kompella, CEO of RPA2AI Research. Kompella, who said he hadn't researched PatSnap, holds a postgraduate diploma in intellectual property rights law.
"The products in this space are themselves ripe for innovation enabled by AI, cloud and SaaS," he said.
PatSnap's IP management platform connects 116 jurisdictions, 140 million patents and more than 250 million innovation data points worldwide, putting that data into a searchable database, according to the vendor.
Updated with real-time data presented in easy-to-read dashboards, the platform enables enterprises to track their own patents. The platform can help users conduct Freedom to Operate (FTO) searches, which gauge the risk of patent infringement, and search for prior art.
Kashyap Kompella CEO, RPA2AI Research
Using AI and analytics, the platform can enable users to track markets and competitors, showing users organizations with similar or potentially competing pieces of IP.
Forrester analyst Mike Gualtieri noted that while he doesn't cover IP management, he understands that there are significant consequences for IP violations.
Most IP infringement isn't malicious, he said. Instead, it happens because firms don't have an efficient way to find the existence of prior art, or evidence that an invention is already known.
"Using specific tools to prevent IP infringement in the first place can save a single company hundreds of millions or more," Gualtieri said.
"With amazing new approaches to natural language understanding such as transformer networks and even computer vision, companies like PatSnap should be able to go well beyond an old-style keyword search approach to finding relevant IP," he continued.
Research and development
Meanwhile, PatSnap's R&D management platform is similar by enabling users to track organizations in similar markets.
The platform takes in information about similar organizations, including data on an organization's investments, acquisitions, technology capabilities and collaborators, and presents the data in a visual dashboard.
The platform can also gather news, features, blogs, journals and market reports related to a user's industry and compile them to give a snapshot of market size and growth trends.
Using all of this data, users can make more informed decisions about their R&D spending and direction and discover which organizations might be immediate competitors, potential business partners or future acquisition targets.
"Practically all sectors of the modern economy invest heavily in R&D -- telecom, pharma, software, semiconductors, industrials, automotive, consumer electronics, you name it -- and patents are the tangible output markers out there," Kompella said.
The number of patents granted globally rose in 2020, he noted. Big tech companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM are granted thousands of patents each year.
So patent analytics has become a core competence of a mature R&D team, Kompella said.
"An understanding of the patent landscape is essential to focus R&D and new product development initiatives," he said.
According to business information aggregator CrunchBase, PatSnap, which is privately held, had previously raised about $52 million.
PatSnap also has offices in Beijing, Tokyo, London and Los Angeles.