Author: Yung-Chieh Hung (2007-07-12);
recommendation: Yeh-Liang Hsu (2007-07-12).
Note: This article is Chapter 7 of Yung-Chieh Hung’s
PhD thesis “Development of an Innovative Patent-based Design Methodology.”
Chapter 7. Conclusions and discussions
product design processes commonly seen in research literature or design
textbooks often start from need finding, specification development, conceptual
design, detail design, to production. However, the design problems constantly
faced by engineering designers in industries is how to design around existing
patents, which requires a completely different design approach and knowledge.
This type of design problem is often a local innovation of an existing patent. The rules of patent infringement judgment present the major constraints to
such design problems, and designers may have to sacrifice the performance of
the product in order not to infringe on existing patents.
research proposes a patent-based design process by systematically integrating
patent information, the rules of patent infringement judgment, strategies of designing around patents, and the innovation
design methodology. The basic idea of the process is to generate a new design
concept that is a slight variation of one of the concerned patents but does not
infringe with the existing patent.
Figure 7-1 shows the
flowchart of this patent-based design process. To start with, the designer identifies the related patents to be
designed around and to collect functions and core techniques of each related
patent, as in standard patent analysis. After patent search and screening, the patents
that achieve the same functions are
selected to be designed around. Each patent is then symbolized by a “design matrix”
converted from the design parameters (DPs) and functional requirements (FRs) of
the patent. The design matrices of the patents can be
Figure 7-2 shows
the detailed flow chart of the design around algorithm. After transferring the
related patents into design matrices, the designer assigns priorities of DPs to
be designed around. There are 3 rules in assigning priority: (1) In multiple
patents, the DPs appear in fewest patents have highest priority. (2) For DPs appearing in the same patent, the priority of DPs to be designed around is given to those having
the least contribution to the FRs, and (3) the DPs having minimal interaction
with other DPs. Then the columns and rows of design matrix are sorted according
to the number of non-zero elements.
priorities of DPs are decided, the “design around operation matrices” are
applied to the design matrix to generate a new design matrix which is similar
to but does not infringe with the design matrix of the patent to be designed
around. In this research, four design around operation matrices are proposed.
They are elimination, replacement, integration and decomposition. Note that the design around operation matrices will
first be applied to the DPs which were assigned highest priority to be designed
around. After operating the design around process, new design matrices that do not
infringe with the existing patents and the corresponding design problems are
Based on this existing patent, TRIZ is used to
transform the new design matrix back into a real engineering design. However, this transformation may fail because there may not be a
feasible design corresponding to the new design matrix generated by the
algorithm. If TRIZ fails to generate a feasible design, the algorithm is
triggered again to apply the design around operation matrix to the DPs which
were assigned the 2nd highest priority. The process continues until
finally a new design concept is generated.
Figure 7-1. Flowchart of the patent-based design
Figure 7-2. Detail flowchart of the design around
The patent-based design process
developed in this research aims to assist enterprises to enhance the efficiency
of product development, lower the possibility of patent infringements, and
increase the patentability of results of innovation. The possible future
development of this research is outlined as follows::
The innovation design method based on design-around approach can be further computerized. Referring
to Figure 7-1, stage 1 (patent analysis) and the stage 4 (TRIZ) depends on the designer’s domain knowledge and are
performed manually. Stage
2 (design representation) and the stage 3 (design around algorithm) are
standard algorithmic process and can be computerized.
application examples should be tried out to fine tune the detailed steps of
TRIZ’s “contradiction table” is a perfect match with this process, other
innovative design methods should also used here to increase the degree of