A patent system requires novelty and progressiveness so that new patents do not infringe on the rights of prior art. Patent investigation including a prior art search is essential to the process of commercialization of technology. In general, patent investigation has been conducted by experts based on their qualitative judgement. However, the number of patents has increased so fast that it has become difficult to handle the quantitative burdens of the search with a conventional approach. There have been previous studies dealing with patent investigation to find similar technologies. They had limitations as they did not utilize the citation relationship and similarity between patents in a comprehensive way. In addition, they could not properly reflect the sequential citation relationship of patents though this is effective in discovering similar patents. In this study, we propose an efficient methodology to discover similar technologies by comprehensively considering the similarity and citation relationship between patents. In particular, we intended to reflect the citation sequence and indirect citation relationship in the process of searching for similar patents. For this, we introduced the concept of “patents with indirect connections” (PICs) and devised an algorithm to efficiently detect patent pairs having such a relationship. The proposed methodology of this study contributes to preventing patent litigation in advance by discovering patents with such potential risks. It is expected that this method will provide patent applicants with the opportunity to establish appropriate strategies against competitors with similar technologies. In order to examine the practical applicability of the proposed method, Korean patents related to machine learning and deep learning were collected. As a result of the experiment, it was possible to identify 24 pairs of similar patents without a direct citation relationship and derive appropriate counter strategies.
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