Using the Citation analysis


Is one of my competitors working on a similar product? Which technologies & products are highly valuable and how are they related? Or is someone using one of my technologies? These questions can be answered by the Citation analysis.

The citation analysis is a visualization of the forward citations of your patent pool. It shows the forward citations per patent grouped in a pie chart, with the top applicants in different colors. This can assist you in identifying certain competitors that are working in the same area and that may be about to launch a competing product. Also, analysing forward citations can show when competitors are trying to build a fence around a key patent by filing multiple patent applications for improvements. This 'ring-fencing' may restrict the owner of the key patent from making and exploiting further developments of the patent.


A citation is a reference to a previous work (prior art) that is considered relevant to a current patent application. There are 2 different types of citations: backward and forward citations. Backward citations are patents that are cited by a specific patent and forward citations are patents that cite a specific patent.

Let’s take a look at the patent portfolio of Adidas and see how well protected their patents are and who is working on similar products.

Defining your filter

We start by creating a new report and by adding an applicant filter for Adidas. This gives us a patent pool of around 1300 patents.

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Analyze patents

Now that we have defined our patent pool, we can start analyzing. We add the citation analysis (support-number-1.png) to the report:


Before the analysis is added we need to configure it. The configuration option (support-number-2.png) let’s you choose how you want the different citations to be categorised. There are 5 possible options: Academic, Applicant, Code, Company and Inventor. For this example, we are going to choose for Applicant.


When the analysis is done, you will get an overview of the top 100 patents of your patent pool that have the most forward citations. It groups the forward citations per applicant for each patent.

Each patent is visualized as a pie chart. The size of the pie chart depends on the number of forward citations the patent has. The different slices in the pie chart show the different applicants of the forward citations. A slice which has a black border around it tells you that the applicant is citing one of its own patents (self-citations).

Inside the legend, you can select/deselect the applicants that you want to see highlighted in a specific color. Maximum 10 applicants can be highlighted. Other applicants will be shown in the default grey.

Almost all the patents later than 2010 are related to (fitness) monitoring tools. We can conclude that Adidas believes in these applications because they do a lot of self-citations. The patents in 2009 are related to electronic training systems. These applications are mostly cited by Nike which indicates that Nike is also innovating on these systems and that Nike is competing with Adidas on electronic training systems.



The visualization can be used as a way to get to know possible competitors who are building IP based on your products/technologies.The size of the circles indicates that a patent has a lot of forward citations and this is an indicator of patent value. Moreover, citations by multiple different applicants are another indicator of patent value. So the biggest circles, with many slices and many different colors indicate technologies that are worth a more detailed investigation.


Try it yourself on PatentInspiration or take a look at the demo report we've used to create this article.

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