Two companies that have been getting a lot of attention in the UK and US are pharma giants Pfizer and Astra Zeneca.
Pfizer’s recent $119bn takeover attempt may have been driven by significant tax benefits, but the company also were surely motivated by an impressive patent portfolio. In an environment where a single drug can cost $4bn to develop (and create over $100bn in revenue), it’s important understand the IP landscape.
In this visualization, we’ve taken the last 600 patents registered by the two companies with the European Patent Office. We’ve then mapped the data as a KeyLines node-link diagram showing connections between assignees (i.e., the companies) and the patent categories (i.e., the area of expertise).
Assignee nodes are sized by degree (i.e., the number of patents registered), links and nodes use are color-coded by patent classification. Assignee nodes also include glyphs representing its registered country.
We can see by the huge number of ‘shared’ category nodes between the different assignees that the two companies compete directly in core areas. For Pfizer, buying that competitor, plus their vast portfolio of relevant patents, would have been a significant advantage.
Further, in the top-left we can see a fan of categories AZ in which Pfizer have not recently registered patents. This could indicate unique strengths in AZ’s R&D program from which Pfizer could benefit.
This screenshot was taken from a web application built using the KeyLines network visualization toolkit. We’ve used KeyLines ‘structural’ layout, which clusters nodes with similar properties, which reveals groupings not necessarily discoverable using just the data.