Successful companies today are developing products not in a reactive way, but proactive by identifying their customer’s need and develop products with the customer needs in mind. This product development process needs to integrate IP as early as possible to also ensure, that the developed solutions can be protected by IP at all and to closely monitor which IP portfolio has to be generated for the concrete product. To assist the generation of the needed IP portfolio many digital tools are becoming available today, e.g. AI-based patent search tools, which can help in prior art searches. When this targeted generation of IP portfolios for individual products is conducted in a systemic way in the innovation process, this is also called synthetic inventing.

The basic idea of the synthetic invention process is not to use the technical features and properties of a product as the starting point for the search for inventive solutions, but instead the competitive effect. At least at the beginning, the product is not broken down into individual components or a description of its technical properties. Rather, the focus is on the customer’s perspective, who usually can only witness the implementation of a technical solution if it creates a concrete benefit. Therefore, the starting point of synthetic inventions is to accept the customer’s point of view of the product and to understand the customer’s experience of using the product. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze how the customer interacts with the innovative product and how his needs are satisfied.

The result of this procedure is a description of the technical problem from which the inventive idea, i.e. the application of technical principles to solve a technical problem, can be derived. It is now necessary, considering the specific strategic goals of the company, to determine which features should be included in a future patent or more precisely what should be prohibited by this patent. The resulting synthetic invention must now be checked for novelty. For this purpose, suitable searches have to be carried out in the patent literature and other technical literature to determine the existing prior art for the relevant problem solution.

The invention must now be distinguished from this prior art. At the same time, in some cases the necessary level of inventiveness must be established. For this purpose, the inventive solution is specifically processed and modified in workshops with the technical experts. This can also be done in the form of an iterative process, such as known from agile project management. The problem that emerges here is that it is unclear how the description of the invention should be adapted to become patentable. In practice, it proves helpful to be inspired by already granted patents. Usually, there are patents to analyze which describe a similar technical problem. A search should be made for certain types of patents which correspond to that of the invention.

How such an analysis can be conducted for synthetic inventing with the newest AI-based tools, will be discussed by Daniel Holzner (ABP) and Wolfgang Hildesheim (IBM) in the upcoming Live interview on LinkedIn on March 19th 2024: