The annual Strategic and Competitive Intelligence conference wrapped up today. I met with over 80 competitive intelligence professionals; product marketers, product managers, R&D folk. Really smart people, and I recommend it if you're in a similar role.
Many R&D and Competitive Intelligence professionals don't use patents as part their research. The predominant reason is that they think that patents are in the domain of counsel, when really, counsel is too busy with administrative tasks to provide primary research. We spent a lot of time educating attendees.
A booth visitor asked about trends in consumer packaged foods. I ad libbed a search string based on my knowledge about the space. The technology analytics showed us a mix of inventions from marginal improvements to paradigm shifting innovations. In the end, we uncovered a fascinating new area of development that delighted the attendee and demonstrated the insights our customers get from patent literature.
We also came across something of an oddball. US 8,528,761, Launchable beverage container concepts, contemplates a football shaped container, designed to be filled with a potable liquid. The football is fully intended and designed to be used for sport. We were very curious as to what sort of refreshment one might be put into a football. Alcoholic libration seemed a likely guess; we suspected the inventor had been under the influence when conceiving the idea.
While we wanted to dismiss it, but we kept talking about it. We decided to learn more.
Innography's Advanced Analysis shows the current assignee for US'761 is ThinkAtomic. Performing a web search, we found out that ThinkAtomic is an incubator, of sorts, and that they have invested in a startup called Rocket Bottling. Rocket Bottling doesn't have a website, but they do have several YouTube Videos.
On Youtube we found a product called Orange Zimbi being packaged into a remarkably similar shape, and tracking that name, searched and found the product pages for Zimbi drinks and the manufacturer doing business as Xymbiot in Orem, UT, with about 500K in annual revenues.
The visitor told me that this is the practice of "interactive packaging" filled with smart ideas for getting extra value out of the package materials are delivered in. Packaging can also serve dual purposes: traditional roles to protect and market and also secondary roles of place settings, freshness indicators, and entertainment. Neither of us knew how prolific it was.
We came back to Innography, and created a search around intelligent/interactive/active packaging. Not surprisingly, packaging manufacturers, Tetra Laval, Graphic Packaging, and Sealed had huge portfolios, and Consumer Packaged Goods companies came in second, more surprisingly were a number of pharmaceuticals manufacturers playing in this space.
In less than 15 minutes, we looked at new products, new trends, and new competitors. And as opposed to most of the CI tools out there, we're projecting years into the future. Moving CI from proactive to reactive. That's the power of patents.