Driving forward: the automotive tech fueling IP interests – Managing Intellectual Property
Automobiles are many
things to many people. At their heart, they’re a core mode of transportation
that ferry passengers to and from places, including cities, states, countries,
and even continents, providing a sense of identity for some and essential
utility function for others.
In this way, cars and
other automobiles have become vital to modern life – and as a result of new
innovation, they’re becoming even more integral.
become more than just a mode of transportation; they have integrated themselves
with our digital lives and automated everyday functions. Technological
advancements that once seemed largely theoretical to much of the public more
than a decade ago have quickly become a reality.
In a previous
article, we examined various IP challenges confronting automotive companies
related to patenting AI-related inventions, including patent eligibility,
inventorship, and trade secrets.
In this article, we consider advancements in
automotive technologies, both from patent filings and from the perspective of
historical litigation trends in emerging technologies, touching on aspects of
autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, and design patents.
A wave of
technological innovation has pushed the IP footprint of car manufacturers
beyond the basics of automotive design and into realms that had previously been
recognised as high tech.
But history has shown
that the potential for litigation increases as companies stake positions on
innovation, market share, and differentiation from competitors in fast-growing
tech – as evidenced by the advent of the electric light, heavier-than-air
flight, and the so-called smartphone wars.
In recent years,
there has been a marked increase in patent filings surrounding autonomous
vehicles, AI, and connected automobiles, which may signal the potential for
increased litigation as these technologies integrate into the marketplace.
As technology becomes
more integrated and continues to cross industry boundaries, automobile
companies will need to grapple with standard essential patents (SEPs), which
have seen historically increased litigation for cellular, smartphone, and
computer manufacturers, and less so for automotive companies.
In addition, trends
in obtaining design patents to protect designs of replacement parts may offer
additional avenues for automotive companies to prevent counterfeit products,
allowing them to strengthen brand images, ensure quality of parts, and maintain
A recent federal
appeals court’s decision upholding the use of design patents for replacement
parts has brought increased attention to the potential that design patents may
It’s no secret that
automotive firms are developing technologies at an incredible pace and
investing significant resources to do so.
filed for autonomous vehicles and connected automobiles continue to rise
globally and are among the fastest growing technologies in the automotive
technologies in driving operations, increased connectivity and user experiences
–such as infotainment systems, 5G integration, and other traditionally
non-automotive technologies – are now integrated throughout the industry.
The recent increases
in patent filings for autonomous vehicle patents will affect both passenger
cars with self-driving modes and fully autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous
ride sharing and taxi services.
deployments and early rider programmes are already bringing such technology
into the mainstream of public life. For example, artificial intelligence is now
a driving force behind autonomous vehicle development and is one of the fastest
growing segments in the automotive industry and patent filings.
While the continued
growth and technological development of driverless vehicles is seen as a
positive advancement in the consumer driving experience, it also raises issues
related to SEPs …….