IFI CLAIMS has been managing standardized company name variations for decades, allowing you to map patent publications to the correct original and current assignees. Our proprietary name management process cleans various types of entity names to address issues of misspelling, name changes, and other merger and acquisition activity. The result is the most reliable company name mapping available for IP analytics. Our Names Service takes this process even further, providing the Ultimate Owner for any IFI Name and allowing you to easily capture the full portfolio of patent assets owned by a company and its subsidiaries.

To make the best use of our IFI Names and Ultimate Owners, it is important to understand how we manage the data. This blog explains some of the rules we use to standardize names and assign Ultimate Owners.

What We Standardize

We standardize:

  • applicant names
  • assignee names in the parties container and assignment history
  • names provided in legal events that are related to changes in ownership or name changes

We do not standardize:

  • individuals
  • agents
  • correspondents

Our Process

We follow three main steps in our cleaning process: normalization, standardization, and harmonization.

The first step is to normalize the data or put it into a homogenized format. This includes:

  • removing punctuation, parentheses, hyphens, and similar characters
  • dealing with spelling variations (and/&, ä/ae) and misspellings
  • putting legal forms into a consistent format such as Corp, SL, Ltd, PLC, AG etc.

Next, different name variations are grouped under one official IFI Name. This is an extremely important step in the process as some of the variations we receive would make the record very difficult to find otherwise. For example, as of January 2022, we have 2,260 name variations for BASF SE, including:

  • GASF AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT
  • BEE AA ESU EFU AG
  • BADIS CHE ANVIN & SODA FABRIK AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT
  • ?SF A

Finally, harmonization involves matching the standardized IFI Name to the most current entity name, accounting for name changes. For example, Orig3n Inc changed its name to Seaport Diagnostics Inc in April 2021. As of December 2021, there were no published reassignments of any of their patents. However, the new name is available as the ifi-standardized-name-current in CLAIMS Direct:

<ifi-standardized-name country="US" number="866109">
  <name>Orig3n Inc</name>
</ifi-standardized-name>
<ifi-standardized-name-current country="US" number="866108">
  <name>Seaport Diagnostics Inc</name>
</ifi-standardized-name-current>

Language

To deal with names in different languages, we follow a common practice used by many patent offices and information providers.

For names in languages using Latin characters, we do not translate the names to English. Rather, we keep the original company names in their original language. For example:

  • Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (German)
  • Telmat Industrie SA (French) 
  • Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (Spanish)

For names in languages using non-Latin characters such as Russian and Chinese, we transliterate the names to Latin characters and use the name provided by the applicant if the company has a known English name. For example:

Name in Chinese: 清锋(北京)科技有限公司
Transliteration: Qingfeng Beijing Technology Co Ltd
IFI Name: Luxcreo Beijing Inc

For Japanese names, we try to find the official English name, which is not always a translation of the Japanese name. For example, according to the company website of Daido Tokushuko Kabushiki Kaisha, the company "name shall be expressed in English as Daido Steel Co., Ltd."

In a transliterated Japanese name, Kabushiki Kaisha is abbreviated as KK. If the name is translated, then the legal form is represented as “Co Ltd.”

Romanized names are added as variations of the official English name.

State and Country Disambiguation

For purposes of disambiguation, we add the country to the end of the name if the same entity name exists in different countries:

  • Siemens Industry Software GmbH Austria
  • Siemens Industry Software GmbH Germany

If multiple companies with the same entity name exist in different states of the same country and the entities are owned by different parent companies, we add the state to the end of the name:

  • Blackbird Technologies Inc California
  • Blackbird Technologies Inc Virginia

Rules for Different Entity Types

Ultimate Owners

IFI's Ultimate Owners provide comprehensive coverage of the patent holdings of major public companies such as those listed on the following:

  • FTSE 100
  • S&P 500
  • Russell 1000
  • Forbes Global 2000
  • Fortune 500

In general, our rules for determining Ultimate Owners are as follows:

  • The IFI Ultimate Owner is the highest-level legal entity with an ownership interest of greater than 50% in the subsidiary. We define the Ultimate parent as the highest-level entity that prepares consolidated financial statements, understanding that “financial statements of a group in which the assets, liabilities, equity, income, expenses, and cash flows of the parent and its subsidiaries are presented as those of a single economic entity” as defined by the International Financial Reporting Standard organization (IFRS).
  • We do not consider groups or conglomerates that do not exist as legal entities.
  • IFI Ultimate Owners are operational entities, not investment companies. This means that we do not consider an investment company to be the ultimate parent of a private entity even if it owns more than 50% of the company shares.

As an exception, we do create Ultimate Owners that are investment companies if they own patents or if they are in the S&P lists. For example, Huntington Bancshares Inc. is considered an Ultimate Owner because many of its child companies own patents, including:

  • Grayling State Bank
  • Midwest Bank and Trust Co
  • Security First Corp
  • LeaseNet Group Inc
  • Huntington National Bank
  • NBC Corp
  • Royal American Bank
  • Sky Bank
  • Citizens State Bank
  • Empire National Bank of Traverse City
  • Commerce Exchange Bank

Joint Ventures

Joint ventures join two or more different entities into a new entity for a specific objective in a specific country. Joint ventures are considered to be Ultimate Owners because none of the participants own more than 50% of the venture.

Holding Companies

A holding company is an umbrella company that owns one or several other companies. They are often set up to distribute liabilities amongst different companies. A holding company may be listed as an Ultimate Owner if it owns enough stock to have a controlling interest and if it produces a consolidated financial statement. For example, Berkshire Hathaway is considered an Ultimate Owner because it produces a consolidated financial statement.

Dual-Listed Companies

Dual-Listed Companies (DLC) form a corporate structure in which two legal entities function as a single operating business but retain separate stock exchange listings, usually in different countries. In CLAIMS Direct, the DLC is the Ultimate Owner.

For example, Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto PLC, a London and New York Stock Exchange listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. The two companies are joined in a DLC structure as a single economic entity called the Rio Tinto Group.

Rio Tinto PLC, GB - LSE
Rio Tinto Ltd, AU - ASX

Ultimate Owner: Rio Tinto Group, GB

Academic Institutions and University Systems

IFI uses this category for educational institutions, no matter the funding type. This includes schools, colleges, and universities, all of which may be Ultimate Owners.

The following types of academic institutions are added as child names if they are controlled directly by the parent institution:

  • colleges of liberal arts
  • professional schools
  • bureaus
  • offices
  • foundations
  • technology transfer entities
  • research centers (located on or off the main campus)
  • branch campuses

For example, for the Ultimate Owner, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, child names include:

  • Dimotech Ltd
  • Technion Research and Development Foundation Ltd

A university system is a group of institutions having a collective legal status and generally recognized by a state government, a board of education, or other relevant organization as a collective organization. IFI creates an Ultimate Owner for university systems.

For example, for the Ultimate Owner, State University System of Florida, child names include, among others: 

  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University FAMU
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Atlantic University Research Corp
  • University of Florida Research Foundation Inc

Government-Owned Entities

This category includes state-owned companies as well as government departments and agencies. Some examples include:

  • Agence Spatiale Europeenne (France)
  • Beijing Automotive Group Co Ltd (China)
  • Ministry of Science and Technology India (India)
  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology AIST (Japan)
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