Interview With Peter Vanderheyden, CEO Of Article One Partners 15/02/2018 by Intellectual Property Watch, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. Article One Partners (AOP), the world leader in crowdsourced intellectual property research, is now into their 10th year. Intellectual Property Watch recently arranged an interview with Article One Partners CEO Peter Vanderheyden to get an update on how the company has evolved in response to the ever-changing IP landscape, and in light of their commitment to IP quality. AOP was launched in 2008. In that time, they’ve grown from a few hundred researchers, to a crowd of over 42,000 registered researchers. They’ve done research for many of the biggest names in innovation and patents, contributing work on high-profile cases and recently expanding into monetization with their unique methodology. Following the acquisition of AOP in September 2017, Peter highlights their recent activity and insights, particularly since they were acquired by RWS, a well-known translation and intellectual property support firm based in the UK in September 2017. Q: What spurred the creation of the company back in 2008? A: AOP has always been about patent quality. We all know that the quality of patents is a huge topic of concern to market participants and legislators. Poor quality patents put the entire system at risk and it opens the door to bad actors. At the same time, assessing quality, especially post-grant, is not an easy proposition given the broad definition of prior art. The old orthodoxy is daunting and unreliable. AOP started as a better way to find prior art, using the public, or, as we call them, the crowd. And in fact, it has worked quite well. Q: Do you still have that focus? It sounds like a response to the NPE or “troll” issue, and the panic around that seems to have subsided for the time being. A: I think AOP will always be centered on patent quality. You’re correct on the initial focus. There was a perfect storm in the 2009-2012 timeframe regarding poor quality patents being wielded in the market with questionable business practices — that had wide-ranging effects. First, it drove a sense of urgency in those threatened by such patents to find a better way to locate invalidating prior art. This helped launch AOP and it generated a lot of business that in turn attracted an impressive and talented crowd. It also acted as a catalyst for patent reform that was long in process, resulting in the America Invents Act. Many other things changed during that time, not the least of which was that corporate clients took effective action to fight bad patents and to develop risk management practices around impending threats. In short, everyone got organized and developed processes to deal with poor quality patents. AOP was a part of that process for many, and remains so today. The net effect of all of these actions is a more confident patent owner and market player able to act deliberately in fighting bad quality. Q: That sounds like it might have driven down demand. A: On the NPE front I would say it’s not growing as much, but overall litigation is holding its own even if on a bit of a downtrend. It might be accurate to say that the case filings are becoming less volatile. There is still plenty of litigation taking place and it remains one tool in the bag for both parties. The one thing that is certain is that the quality of the patent that is subject to the contention is going to get a thorough examination by at least one party, if not both. Our litigation-based activity has remained pretty steady the past few years and given that we can also assess quality with non-crowdsourced studies, we anticipate growth every year for the foreseeable future. Q: So is that still where you live, so to speak? A: Not at all. Doing so much litigation-based work really helped develop the crowd and attract talent, and we found that that talent can do other things for our clients. I like to say that each of our individual clients focus on at least one of three things for their employers: innovation, defense, or monetization. AOP offers intelligence to help clients make business decisions in all three areas. Q: I get the Defense element. That’s where you started and still play — but I’m surprised by the monetization element. Tell me more about that. A: Corporate clients have always believed that patents are assets. Thus, they want them to be high quality. They also believe that high quality assets can and should be monetized. That’s what investors require management to do with all assets. So, if they have high quality assets they’re interested in monetizing them. That comes in many forms; from inclusion in products, licensing to competitors or non-analogous markets or selling the patents to other operating companies for use in new markets. AOP helps this process with a study we call Evidence of Use (EoU) where the crowd scours the globe for products that read on patent claims. The results can often be monetized, or at least used to build a defensive portfolio in the event of an unwelcome assertion. Q: So you’re doing more than prior art research? A: Absolutely! We’re fortunate to have some incredibly intelligent and innovative clients. We also have many early adopters, which might not surprise you. The combination enables us to learn from them and to brainstorm ways to use the crowd to address their business needs. Doing that has resulted in a full line of intellectual property research offerings. To name a few, in addition to invalidity, we support aspects of: patentability/novelty, freedom to operate, landscaping (including business/technology intelligence), evidence of use, compliance, and anti-counterfeiting. We have delivered on over 6,000 studies to date, with over $8.4M in rewards. Our experience continues to grow and expand. Some of these are crowd-based, others are done with individuals or subsets of the crowd. This allows us to better align the client budget with the desired outcome. One size does not fit all in the IP world, so we offer a number of sizes and shapes to address those different needs. Q: Tell me more about the crowd. With over 42,000 it sounds like you have a real resource to draw on for IP related work. A: Yes, we’re fortunate to be associated with these people. They really are talented. As I mentioned, 40% have advanced degrees and 15% have PhDs. In addition, they come from over 180 countries. They specialize in just about every known subject and technology. You want a blood chemistry expert witness, we have some. You want an automotive autonomous vehicle expert, they’re in the crowd. You name it and we likely have someone in the crowd with that skill and experience. The beauty of the crowd is their diversity. Not only technical but geographic, cultural, economic, age, etc. Diversity brings surprises in the approaches different people take to the same problem, and the results they delivery. Our clients value this unique insight. Q: Why do these people join AOP and why do they participate? A: It’s not too complicated on the surface, but it’s enormously complicated on the management and execution level. They participate for three simple reasons. First, of course, is the money they can earn. That is a given for all of them. Second is the work flexibility. They can work on what they want, for as long as they want, when they want. Finally, is what I call intellectual stimulation. Again, these are educated and curious people. They’re able to work on interesting technological challenges and learn about different areas of interest even as they work. That’s a nice side benefit. Q: You mentioned the challenge of managing and executing. What do you mean by that? A: I would be willing to say unless you’ve had the experience of managing a crowd you would dramatically underestimate the complexity of doing so. We consider this a core competency of AOP at this point. Working with the crowd over years of studies and experimenting with various reward models, we’ve refined the process and established policies to reduce wasted time for the researchers, AOP and our clients. I won’t say we will ever be done — it’s a dynamic and changing art, and with every new offering we need to come up with a revised reward model to fairly compensate the researchers within the price points that clients will accept. We have a pretty good handle on how to manage the dynamics to treat everyone with fairness and integrity. Q: With all those researchers you must have a lot of research to review. How does that work? A: It is a lot of work, but we’ve also made great progress on that front. Since our inception, we’ve developed a proprietary platform we call AOP Connect. The researchers upload their references to this platform, and our delivery team of IP attorneys then review the art, making it readily available for client review. We also require the researchers to physically highlight parts of the documents to help us focus on what they felt was important. That also speeds the process. The result is a very efficient review process for both AOP and the client, which also helps us reward the right individuals in the research community. Q: You’ve mentioned awards as compensation for the researchers. Are all studies contest-based? A: We actually have a range of compensation models. Given the range of use cases we discussed earlier, we also have a range of study types, if you will, to align with each. Each of those have a different compensation model. The contest based CrowdSearch study carries the biggest reward and most of that is contest based, with a smaller amount being paid on individual references that were good, but not winners. In non-crowd-based studies, or invitation only studies, we have a range of compensation models from pure contest to combinations of fixed fees and contest awards, to straight fixed or hourly fees only. The best researchers from the crowd get invited as “experts” into these other study models, many of whom actually are subject matter experts. Being invited into this high-performance group is a form of recognition, but more importantly, it provides the researcher with additional earnings opportunities in the form of guaranteed payments. This helps researchers balance the kind of work with the compensation model based on their skill and appetite for competition vs. more guaranteed-income type of work. Q: Crowdsourcing answers to questions of IP and prior art is admittedly something quite non-traditional – do you ever get any unique or “out-of-the-box” requests? A: We certainly tackle plenty of conventional research requests, but yes, we’ve seen some very interesting cases come our way, and we’re typically quite successful. One client needed to acquire a tool in a foreign country, not just information about it, but the actual tool itself; it was no longer available as far as they could tell. A quick check on our part confirmed that it was not available on your typical online retail sites. We did the study and, sure enough, the crowd found an obscure site that offered the tool for sale. The client was able to acquire it as they wished. Similarly, a client needed a product manual from a very old electronic product, and no one on their team, or that they hired, could find it, online or otherwise. Numerous people in the crowd found not only the manual, but a full set of literature as shipped with the product when it was new, including things like warranty cards, fast start sheets, instruction manuals, etc. They sent in pictures of the literature spread across a desk and asked, “what would you like?” In another instance, a client needed to find an online dialogue between two patients who were discussing the side effects of a particular drug/regimen as it changed from one specific regimen to another specific regimen, and the crowd found it. The diversity of the crowd delivers in the most unusual ways. Q: Peter, this has been interesting. It sounds like things have grown and evolved in some interesting ways over these almost 10 years. We really appreciate your sharing the insights with us. A: Thank you. It has been an interesting ride to say the least, but our evolution has not only kept us relevant but helped us become a real partner to many clients. Now under RWS, we have an even broader product line (all the traditional search types are now available) and a much larger sales and client relationship team. We’re excited about where we will go next. The one thing that is certain is that we will continue to grow, evolve, and innovate with the best clients in the market. That keeps us going every day! About Peter Vanderheyden is Chief Executive Officer of Article One Partners where he brings over 30 years of experience across all business disciplines from finance to product management and entrepreneurial startups. Prior to joining Article One, Mr. Vanderheyden was the vice president and Managing Director of LexisNexis’s Global IP Solutions business where he led a team that developed the world’s largest online patent database (TotalPatent) and patent quality assessment tool (PatentOptimizer). Mr. Vanderheyden also spearheaded the first truly semantic search engine for technical/patent content. Mr. Vanderheyden enjoyed a successful career with IBM where he served a variety of roles including that of corporate entrepreneur. Mr. Vanderheyden raised venture funding and engineered the creation and spin out of Delphion from IBM in 2000, acting as GM and CEO, then as VP of International Ops, Sales and Business Development (Strategic Alliances). Mr. Vanderheyden also has two US Patents to his credit. About Article One Partners- an RWS company Since its founding in 2008, Article One Partners (AOP) has revolutionized the transparency of patent data. Today, AOP is the world’s largest patent research community, broadcasting its studies to over 42,000 people and distributing more than $8 million in rewards to researchers for their work on over 5,000 client patent studies. AOP is exceptionally successful in identifying non-textual and non-patent literature. The company is a partner to 17 Fortune 100 companies, 74 Forbes Global 2000 and 7 of the top 10 US patent filers. AOP’s client satisfaction rate exceeds 90%. In September 2017, AOP was acquired by RWS, a well-known translation and intellectual property support firm based in the UK. For more information: +1 (347) 901-4820 Visit www.articleonepartners.com, www.rws.com email at email@example.com Image Credits: Article One Partners RWS Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Intellectual Property Watch may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Interview With Peter Vanderheyden, CEO Of Article One Partners" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.