The internet of things has been upon us for some time now, though many are just beginning to see it the interconnected network of device that increasingly surrounds us. These often unassuming IoT workhorses are already taking over control of manufacturing processes, smart power grid, and transportation system. They help us manage our homes, travel in our cars, shop in stores and generally assist us in all sort of tasks.
Colliding patent in an Internet of Things
Filing a patent in such a lucrative industry can be quite valuable. Unfortunately, protecting your IP in the IoT is likely to be both complicated and lead o more patent infringement lawsuits than ever before. Why? Because in order to successfully operate with other systems, IoT devices from different manufacturers will have to be able to work together which means there likely to be plenty of overlapping utility patents.
IoT Communicating Infrastructure
Making things even more complex is that a number of different industries are competing to provide the same IoT communication infrastructure. For example:
- Car companies want to install home networks that allow for silent, wireless overnight software updates.
- Alphabets’ Nest division offer smart home devices that talk to each other.
- Power companies want homes connected to smart grids, with some offering home surveillance network as an enticement.
The concern with all of this is that once a communication infrastructure, becomes ubiquitous, it stands a stronger chance of becoming the backbone of subsequent IoT system. For a company in the IoT system. For a company in the IoT industry, especially now, when so much is in flux, this means any other company could be infringing your patent.
Strong Patent Portfolio is a Defence
A solid patent portfolio offers three important benefits;
- Income: Patents you own that others need to license can provide lucrative income streams.
- Partnership: If you have a valuable patent, it can provide leverage when you are working out cross-licensing agreement with competitors.
- Litigation deterrent: A strong IP portfolio will serve as a deterrent against patent trolls and others seeking IP infringement lawsuits.
Patents as early as possible
The IoT industry is exploding, so if you want to stay ahead of the game, you need a patent your innovation as quickly as possible. You should consider claiming:
- Broadscope: A broad patent application can provide greater opportunities to sue for patent infringement down the road. However, it is important to know that the USPTO, may narrow your claim’s breadth during its examination due to Alice and some other supreme court decision.
- Diversity: When an invention is presented in multiple claim formats, with different terminology, and in different arrangements, it’s less likely to leave any unintended loopholes in IP protection (due to an overly narrow description of the invention).
- Settings: Citing the ways in which the invention can be used in multiple scenarios widens the circumstances in which you may be able to prove IP infringement in the future.
Consider design Patents
After years of patent litigation, Apple and Samsung have made it clear that design patents can be the very strong asset when it comes to protecting IP. This kind of patent protects the visual looks, color, feel and overall design of a particular product. While its true that IoT devices may succeed or fail based on the functionality they offer, their appearance can nonetheless be a meaningful brand identifier and potentially part of what makes a customer choose one product over another. And if someone creates a knock off your product that mimics its look and feel, a strong design patent design will enable you to sue for infringement.
Thriving in a thrilling new space for competition
How the IoT strikes you depend somewhat on your outlook. Some of the underlying technologies are still in development, but a variety of industries are already starting t make their moves. Sooner or later, the IoT is going to hit critical mass and burst into full form as high stakes, high speed, everywhere in the world industry with the potential for tremendous profit.