EconSight first identified all patents of the last 10 years at the interface between digitization and classical technologies and assigned them to the companies. The patents were then evaluated on the basis of their technological relevance. This PatentSight indicator measures the significance of a patent on the basis of citations of this patent by other patents (comparable to the citation system of scientific publications). In order to consider the disruptive potential of these technologies, only citations of patents from the last two years were considered. If many other companies refer to a patent in the recent past, it is usually of high disruptive quality. In addition, the change in innovative strength was taken into account. Companies must not only maintain their innovative strength, but also continuously expand it in order to occupy a leading position in the ranking.
A major technical challenge is to standardize the widely differing citation practices of the national patent offices and to standardize the documentation of the legal status of patents – whether the IP right is active or not (in other words, economic or strategic value is still attached to the patent). Here, too, there are widely differing standards worldwide. Our analyses always include patent applications and valid patents granted.
Another technical task is the assignment of patents to companies. Each published patent is assigned to the highest controlling economic unit (Ultimate Owner). Accordingly, all patents of Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche, for example, are assigned to the VW Group. This can only be done with great manual effort, especially in view of the international group structures, different legal forms and spellings of companies, because these data are not consolidated in the worldwide patent databases.