Article 3 of 3: Comparing two companies operating in the same technology area

Dominique Pomerleau & Frédéric Venne
Metallurgical Engineering, P. Engineer, Engineering Physics, Patent Agents


This is the third and final article in a series of three publications on the topic: “What do you want to know about your competition?” This article will provide a comparison between two companies operating in the same technology area. Various graphical representations will be used to compare the two entities, which will provide an overview of the potential benefits of such a study.


The first two articles in this series dealt with the mapping of a technology area and the study of technology areas of interest to a company, both of which rely on the use of intellectual property “big data.”

It may also be useful to compare two companies operating in the same technology area from an intellectual property perspective. A comparative analysis of the intellectual property held by two entities could guide certain business decisions, such as the financing of either entity, or at least foster a better understanding of the technological landscape in which you are operating.

Comparing two companies operating in the same technology area

This third article will focus on various ways of comparing the patent and patent application portfolios of two companies operating in the same technology area. For the purposes of this publication, the portfolios of Fritschi Swiss Bindings and Salewa Sport AG were obtained, and a comparative study is presented below. The portfolios were obtained by creating a database including the patents and published patent applications with Fritschi Swiss Bindings or Salewa Sport AG as holder (current or past) and/or applicant.

The resulting database contains 152 patent families, about 57% of which are abandoned patent applications, expired or revoked patents, about 34% are patents in force, and about 9% are pending patent applications. Of these portfolios, 3 patent families have been the subject of litigation (1 for Salewa and 2 for Fritschi), and 14 patent families have been the subject of opposition proceedings (7 objections for each of the two companies). On average, each patent family has three patents/applications.

As shown in Figure 1, Salewa’s portfolio has more than twice as many patent families as Fritschi’s. Interestingly, both companies’ portfolios contain approximately 50% abandoned patent applications, expired patents and revoked patents. Salewa’s portfolio includes 12% pending patent applications, that is, documents describing relatively recent inventions, compared with 7% for Fritschi. This observation is confirmed by the chart in Figure 2, which shows that Salewa’s patent applications are not only more recent but also more numerous in recent years.

Figure 1: Salewa and Fritschi portfolios by legal status
Figure 2: Salewa and Fritschi portfolios by date of first filing

The two companies’ intellectual property protection strategies would appear to be somewhat similar from a geographical perspective. They seem to focus on the European market (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France, in decreasing order) and the US market. This is illustrated in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Country/region of protection by applicant/holder

It is also possible to compare, at a glance, the portfolios of two or more companies. An example of such a representation is presented in Figure 4, which clearly shows that the Salewa’s portfolio has greater value and originality than Fritschi’s portfolio. Fritschi appears to outpace Salewa only in litigation involving its patents. However, Fritschi’s portfolio has greater impact and strength than Salewa’s; its impact index[1] is 1.99, and its strength index is 1.28 (compared with 1.57 and 1.07 for Salewa).

Figure 4: Comparative illustration of the impact of patent and patent application portfolios, by holder


This third article provided a comparison between two companies operating in the same technology area. The comparative study of the patent and patent application portfolios revealed the trends for each of the patent and patent application portfolios and their respective strengths and weaknesses.

It is important to note that the examples and indicators included in this article are only a small fraction of the analytical possibilities available, and that there are as many ways to gather information about your competition as there are questions you have about them.

If you need more information or have questions about mapping a technology area, please contact Dominique Pomerleau and Frédéric Venne.

[1] Numerical indices can be generated to identify key inventions in a technology area or those belonging to our own portfolio of patents and patent applications. For example, the technology impact index is based on the number of times the analyzed patent families have been referred to by the owner or by third parties, with a correction for the age of the patent family and the technology area. An average patent family has an index of 1. The market index is a GDP-based index of countries or regions where the patent families being studied are issued or pending. The strength index is based on the impact index and the market index. It is used to assess whether the patents of company X are stronger than the patents of company Y and which patents are the strongest in a group of patent families.