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Importance of Patents for New Age Smart Devices

Mr Amit Aggarwal

The digital revolution that started with the introduction of smartphones to the world, charcoaled the fire of innovation which brought the world to this exciting new phase where all the major companies in the automation and Internet of Things (IoT) industry are focused on providing the consumers with new and improved technologies, giving rise to a totally webbed, easily controllable world termed as the “Smart world”. From smart homes that can sense your requirements just by capturing the type of clothes you wear to self-healing mobile screens, the upcoming smart innovations are going to play a huge role in modern life and this rapid advancement in technology shows no sign of slowing down. What started as a connecting bridge when the number of devices began exceeding the global population, is now aimed at making this physical world as one big information system.

“This is a very exciting and rapidly developing time where control over the IP is going to lead to the power to frame the discussion and influence the market,” said Chris Mammen a partner at Hogan Lovells.

Control of the intellectual property around this smart revolution is going to be a deciding factor in determining how this concept of “Smart world” comes into reality. Now, a lot of people understand that IoT is going to revolutionise the modern world. But, not many know that nanotechnology is going to be a key factor in that process. And with these emerging technologies such asInternet of Nano-Things(IoNT), building an IP portfolio can be critical to the success or failure of a business, especially for the start-ups.

If the current nanotech gurus understand this fact and get the IP part right, they can bring their A game to the market later and make sure that the innovators are the ones that benefit and not the imitators as it would not only protect theircompanies but would also ensure revenues from licensing.

Obtaining a patent in the smart technology domain is not going to be easy as firms operating and innovating in this sphere are going to face several challenges. Firstly, since every single device will have thousands of patented technologies incorporated therein, the licensing deals of such technologies would pose a major problem. Second obstacle would be joint infringement as Smart device technology is often implemented by systems in multiple locations and the various components of the system could be sold, owned and operated by multiple companies.

The third challenge would be the eligibility of the technology to be a patentable subject matter for patenting – as the underlying objective of IoT is to optimise currently existing processes, making it objectionable from a patentability standpoint. So, there’s a high chance that such inventions would not be considered a significant improvement over the existing technologies and might not be considered as patentable subject matter – we will have to wait to see the response from the patent office as things progress.

With the number of IoT devices reaching 30 billion and the global market value projected to touch $7.1 trillion by 2020, IoT is expected to be an omnipresent technology in the upcoming years. With automobiles, Home appliances and Health care sectorsbeing the first ones to respond, other industries such as Manufacturing, Petrochemicals, Aerospace, etc. have eventuallystarted improving their existing processes using IoT.This emerging technology will present patent industry with the opportunities to observe, question and, if necessary, modify the existing patent system to promote innovation and continued growth in Smart Devices domain. Although there may he hurdles, but not unconquerable –with organizations like USPTO pioneering initiatives to smoothen the patent process in the area, it is likely that things will fall in line eventually.