Interview with Swedish 🇸🇪 Legal tech company, IPScreener
New ideas and technologies are invented all around the globe. Especially in this era where we are facing issues such as climate crisis and the covid pandemic, innovative ideas and technologies are valued more than ever. But what if a piece of invention that you worked so hard on, turned out to be a technology already registered? What if it was actually an expired patent that is free for use? Linus Wretblad, founder and CEO of IPScreener, witnessed this repeatedly and thought it was “an error in the patent system” that he could provide a solution to. We sat down with him for a virtual coffee to discover more about his solution (on December 3, 2021).
“I started my career as a patent examiner at the Swedish Intellectual Property Office. There, I saw the reinvention of the same ideas and technologies happening over and over again. There were so many cases where people were not aware of the fact that their invention was already invented and there was a patent, or sometimes even an expired patent, and that the technology was already free of use. So with my colleague, we founded a company called Uppdragshuset. It is a research company that offers various patent research services and analyses and mapping trends in a specific technical field. But still, I wanted to make patents directly accessible and useful to those involved in developing new ideas and innovation to make their work more efficient. So in 2015, we launched the first prototype called AutoMatch, an AI-based patent search tool that became IPScreener’s predecessor. In 2017 released our market-ready solution and became a standalone legal entity. My mission with IPScreener is to make everyone able to explore and understand this gold mine hidden in patents, to avoid unnecessary reinventions.”
Competitors and IPScreener’s Uniqueness
“We recognize two good competitors in our area. One is from Finland and the other one from Japan. All three of us provide AI-based patent research solutions. However, IPScreener’s has a different approach by aiming also at non-patent professionals, especially R&D teams in small and large companies. This is why our service is not only a tool to search patents, but provides support for understanding the innovation landscape around an idea. Here a core feature is to make it easier for those not used to reading patents by indicating where to start reading and showing how it relates to the “input” idea. Other useful functions are collaboration on findings, sharing them and producing instant reports. We make sure the users not only find the information, but they understand it, and can follow-up and use it.”
“The main reason we first targeted large companies is that they are spending unnecessary resources on inventing what has already been invented. According to a study conducted with UCLA Anderson, the total cost of the whole process for a large company to develop a new invention and apply for a patent is on average USD 616,000. From that amount, only 12,000 dollars are spent during the review process at the IP department. Meaning, that by the time you evaluate whether the technology could be registered or not, you have already spent almost 99% of the cost. This is not very efficient as inventions do overlap with existing technologies. There should be an easy way to access and explore existing patents already in R&D for companies to avoid this, and this is where IPScreener can provide support. ”
Sustainability in Innovation
Linus believes IPScreener is also tackling SDG#9. “SDG#9 only talks about promoting technology and innovative ideas to realize sustainability. But from my point of view, no matter how the technology itself contributes to a sustainable future, we can not call it truly sustainable if the procedure of the innovation is causing waste in money, time, and effort by building solutions that already exist.”
Participating in TINC
In 2017 IPScreener participated in TINC, an accelerator program run by the Nordic Innovation House Silicon Valley. What were the most they got out of it?
“In Scandinavia, the market expects that your product is fully ready at launch, while in the US, the market allows you to release your product at a very early stage of development. Adapting to this and “releasing” our product at a very early stage enabled us to learn and develop as we went on, involving clients and the market. That is what we appreciated the most, apart from a very inspiring stay in the Valley.”
What is your Focus in Japan at the moment? Any Challenges So Far?
“We just landed our first foot in Japan. We have two pilots running with large Japanese companies and are taking the time to examine aspects such as defining the market and ways of localization. We may need another pilot to understand more about our target customers. In all ways, Nordic Innovation House Tokyo and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan will be good connecting points for us.”
“The cultural part will be the biggest challenge, including the way of communication and understanding the business flow. Even though Sweden and Japan do have common core values in respect of nature and mindfulness, it will be important to adapt to other cultural and societal aspects as well.”
Finally, we asked Linus for any messages towards Nordic startups considering market entry to Japan.
“Build your network first. Having local networks is important in any market, but it is extremely important in Japan. For us, we were grateful to meet a Japanese patent attorney in Silicon Valley while we were there for TINC, and the connection has been supporting us ever since. Also, trust is built through long-term relations. For example, we have been in conversation for several years now with the two companies running our pilot cases. Having a trustful network will guide your way through the market.”
Thank you very much, Linus, for sparing your time with us. We will be looking forward to working with you more in the future!
To learn more or try out IPScreener, visit their website:
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