While 2014 saw several watershed moments in the IP arena, 2015 promises to be every bit as exciting. Intellectual property assets remain the engine that drive the world’s economy, with new discoveries creating new markets and fueling new business growth, while influencing the public policy that shapes and, in many cases improves, the quality of life for billions of people worldwide.
Here are some of the top trends the intellectual property lawyers of Panitch Schwarze see coming to fruition in 2015.
Stability at USPTO. After a two-year interregnum, the U.S. Senate may finally appoint a permanent replacement for former USPTO director David Kappos, who left for private practice back in February 2013. After serving as de facto director for most of the interim and weathering numerous incorrect media rumors about which captain of industry would become her new boss, we think Deputy Director Michelle Lee finally will be named the permanent head of the vital body that oversees the United States’ intellectual property system.
Lee’s experience as Head of Patents and Patent Strategy at Google Inc. give her the insight needed to ensure that the United States’ patent system remains committed to spurring innovation and job creation at companies of all sizes and in all industries.
Alice impact on patent portfolio value. For big bundles of software patents, caveat emptor. The Alice vs. CLS Bank decision has caused many ripple effects, but one probable effect that has not, as yet, received very much attention is how Alice will impact the value of software portfolios on the resale market. The last few years have seen a number of high-profile, multi-billion dollar purchases by technology giants acquiring patents as hedges against infringement claims by direct competitors and other third parties. The shadow that Alice has cast over the ability of many of those patents to withstand “abstract subject matter” scrutiny likely will slow down that acquisition activity.
Growth in wearable technology patents – and litigation. From Google Glass to GoPro to Fitbit to the Apple Watch, wearable technology is moving into the mainstream. A 2014 Hanover Research study predicts that the market for wearable tech will grow from $3.7 billion in 2013 to $8.3 billion by 2018. As AdWeek reported during the 2014 SXSW Interactive, wearable tech dominated conversations that previously had been devoted to the rise of mobile technology or the ubiquitous growth in social media. “This is one of the first years where I’ve seen social media kind of quiet down at SXSW, and I feel like that’s being replaced with wearable technology, which is really what I think next year’s all about,” Deborah Hanamura, director of marketing at digital marketing agency Metia, told AdWeek.
That market growth has correlated strongly with a spike in patent filings, both at the USPTO and abroad, particularly WIPO. And as we’ve seen in previous art areas, explosions in patent filings predictably are followed by growth in patent licensing and litigation.