Now that we are partway into 2014, it’s a good time to reflect on what we thought would be important in 2013. To take a look at how we fared in our predictions scroll down to view our updates….
In 2012, intellectual property and patents became headline news as lawsuits, sales, and competitive gamesmanship resulted in an increasing number of firms actively employing intellectual assets as viable tools for building their businesses.
With the likes of Google, Samsung, Kodak, Apple and Marvell being linked to million (and billion) dollar litigation, we expect on-going growth in the number of entities seeking to enhance an IP position and to leverage those rights aggressively. Moreover, as smart phones, white goods, consumer electronics, personal health devices, and automobiles are designed to be always on, always connected, and always richly interactive, our research shows an increasing variety of competitors seeking to capitalize on product, design and intellectual innovation. The growing use of IP to differentiate and compete in these markets dictates leaders modify their plans accordingly.
Reviewing your firm’s patent portfolio should be on the agenda of every boardroom discussion. As such, companies wanting to use intellectual property to establish their firm’s position, defend their business, and create new revenue streams, all parts of the IP Lifecycle, must regularly evaluate their portfolios and promote partnerships amongst leaders in product, financial and legal roles. “Formalizing the responsibility for capturing innovation, valuing the resulting product and the related IP, and protecting the company’s investment in today’s global markets will yield long term financial benefits and deter undue risk,” says Mike McLean, SVP of Intellectual Property Rights & Professional Services.
For 2013, we have identified five trends which we expect will continue to shape the intellectual property and patent space. These trends will impact those firms with an IP strategy in place and those that are currently formulating one.
1. Patent Enforcement Entities (also known as Non-Practicing Entities or NPEs) will broaden their reach by seeking new industries, like medical and automotive, where patents they control may be asserted.
Update: We saw deals such as Orthophoenix LLC acquiring patents from Medtronic and NPEs Acacia and Intellectual Ventures have been bolstering their medical device patent holdings.
2. The number of firms partnering, joining existing consortiums, or creating new consortiums to spread patent acquisition costs and share risk when exercising these joint assets will increase.
Update: Late 2013 saw Google join the Open Invention Network, and defensive patent aggregator RPX has seen significant revenue growth
3. Controversy on the validity of software patents will require firms with software assets to carefully consider how they protect their innovation and how they assert the resulting IP rights.
Update: The quest for clarity continues after the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit returned a split decision in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank, the case now heads to the US Supreme Court with a ruling expected in June 2014.
4. Firms with substantial investments in IP will implement rigorous efforts to control costs and generate return from these assets. For example, Japanese technology firms will take a dramatically different approach to the management of IP capital due to the financial situation many of those companies face.
Update: 2013 closed out with Panasonic entering a patent agreement with WiLAN, transferring 900 patents with a view to obtaining better returns on their R&D investments.
5. A small set of companies in Taiwan and China will provide leadership in transforming IP practices in the region. Those companies will attempt to change the balance of patent power with their western competitors by executing a well-defined strategy to enhance their patent positions in key technology areas.
Update: Chinese technology giant Lenovo has been activity acquiring mobile patents, recent deals include purchases from NEC Corporation and Unwired Planet.
TechInsights is a leader in the intellectual property market with 25 years of experience working with firms in the semiconductor, mobile, hi-tech, consumer electronics, automotive and medical industries. As the usage of patents for competitive advantage is still evolving, we encourage firms to invest in developing robust IP strategies to protect their own innovations and build shareholder value.