SWOT – A Tool to Help Determine the Real Value of your IP

Understanding the value of your IP consists of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each application in a portfolio and of the portfolio as a whole. It also means understanding the opportunities and threats presented by your competitors’ IP. Using that information you can begin to craft a realistic and manageable strategy to maximize your IP protection and value and to manage associated risks.


SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This type of analysis has been successfully applied in a wide range of situations. Application to an IP portfolio is one step in developing an IP strategic plan.

A knowledgeable, unbiased facilitator working with the scientific and business leadership of the company is needed to perform SWOT analyses. Such an individual will be able to probe areas from a fresh perspective often unavailable to members of the company who are too close to the product or research.

The analysis starts as a chart with four quadrants, each representing one of the categories of SWOT. Within each quadrant, the facilitator will pose a series of questions. The exact nature of the questions will depend upon the product and stage of development. An example for a mid- to late-stage product is shown below. This is only an example and contains only some the questions that could be applied to each category.

Example SWOT Chart

Putting the Answers to Work

The information developed from the SWOT analysis is used to prepare IP strategic plans to maximize your strengths and opportunities. Analysis of the weakness and threats helps you articulate IP risk management plans.

A SWOT analysis can be a versatile element in your IP protection toolbox. But it has drawbacks as well. An incomplete exercise could result in non-prioritized lists of things to do rather than bringing focus to critical objectives. Further, without an unbiased approach, individuals may tend to balance strong threats with weak opportunities.


A robust IP program is supported by well-articulated IP strategic plans. This article has presented one tool to assist with the valuation of your patents, applications, and portfolio. Contact me for assistance with this and other IP issues.

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