Much information can be deduced by looking for published patent applications and issued patents citing your own published patent applications and issued patents. I list here the type of information that you may find by searching for "forward citations" of your patents.
Who are your competitors?
- Inventors citing your inventions must be working in the same technological space. You just might find some competing inventors that are new to your understanding.
Are your competitors working on similar technology?
- Your competitors may secretly be working on something close to what you are working on. If they file a patent application, that application routinely publishes 18 months after the application filing date. Your information flow will be delayed by 18 months, but periodic monitoring of competitors' patent filings can give you hints at what they are doing.
- While reviewing competitors' patent application filings, you may discover alternatives to your technological approach and even may figure out new ideas based on what you see.
Potential for Infringement
- If the inventor is in the same technology space, maybe they are infringing your claims? Maybe you can file amended claims to catch them in your patent web? Opportunities abound.
Finding No Patents
- If you search for citing patent applications or similar inventions, what if you find nothing or next to nothing? Perhaps this is an indicator that others find little value in that technology? Maybe the future does not look promising and you should similarly switch streams?
- Maybe others are citing patent applications that you did not find? You can look at the applications and patents cited by others to get a better idea of the scope of the patent coverage and technology development.