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Disruptions in the Automotive Industry - IP Opportunities and Challenges

Disruptions in the Automotive Industry - IP Opportunities and Challenges


What changes are taking place in the automotive industry?

The automotive industry is developing rapidly. Features such as lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking, voice recognition, automatic emergency braking, smartphone integration, keyless entry and start, and more, have already become standard in many vehicles. The industry’s attention has now turned towards autonomous driving technologies and the associated regulatory and standards issues.

Automotive companies are conducting research and implementing solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) and information technology to manage the immense amount of data available to the vehicles, ensure the safety and security of the future mobility, and improve the quality of the mobility service provided.

At the same time, advances are being made in fuel efficiency, electric vehicle and battery technology, and aerodynamics.

Huge investments are made in the research and development of these new technologies, which may also warrant new business models. This raises a very important question of how to create an effective intellectual property strategy for the players in the evolving automotive industry and in the mobility services market.

What are the IP challenges in the automotive industry?

The technologies for next-generation vehicles are increasingly being researched, developed, and embedded in products of companies from other industries such as semiconductors, communications, and software. This trend calls for increased cooperation between partners across the industries, which has already been recognized and implemented by leading automotive industry players (See Microsoft holo lens and VW). Such collaboration between industry players requires an effective approach in dealing with IP which has been owned and already used by the partners and which would be jointly developed during the collaborative projects.

One of the problems faced by automotive companies is figuring out whether the inventions are subject matter that is eligible for patenting. In the past, the automotive industry has had fewer problems deciding what was patentable and obtaining patents because innovations were focused on physical objects or processes and inventions were often extensions of conventional technologies. Now, new innovations are often facing challenges in obtaining patents. For example, technologies associated with autonomous driving are often software-based and may include software methods and processes, whose patentability could be challenged. This applies to the field of artificial intelligence and as more and more solutions are provided by AI the challenges of patentability in the automotive industry will continue to mount.

How to create an effective IP strategy?

To create an effective IP strategy, the characteristics and pace of development in the automotive sector must be considered.

IP protection requires a well-thought-out IP management plan with a need to think carefully about the IP risk management process. Automotive companies also need to assess their patent filing strategies in order to identify gaps in their portfolios and maximize the coverage, both globally and technologically, that their innovation can provide.

As more and more software and non-traditional automotive technologies are being incorporated into vehicles, the exposure of the automotive manufacturers and their suppliers to patent disputes is increased since many of these technologies are already covered by patents that are owned by non-automotive companies. Automotive companies generally will not have patents of their own in these technical areas to leverage in counter-assertion or cross-licensing negotiations.

TechPats provides a wide range of IP protection services, such as IP strategy planning, risk analysis, reverse engineering, and evidence of use analysis. We specialize in many of the non-traditional automotive technologies, such as software, semiconductors, and wireless, that are providing new challenges to the automotive industry.

Article By:

Marek Wernik


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