Every week, we will be highlighting the top patent, copyright, trademark, intellectual property, etc. stories of the previous week in our “In Case You Missed It” segment. The list itself is in no particular order and includes a wide range of stories from the patent world that are informative, noteworthy, or just plain bizarre. The stories included encompass everything from Supreme Court cases to insights into growing industries. Please feel free to comment your thoughts on the stories or share an important one we missed!
1.) “U.S. Companies File Record-High Patent Applications in Europe”
The United States filed a record 43,612 patent applications to the Eurpoean Patent Office (EPO) in 2018. This number is a 2.7% increase from 2017 and encompasses nearly 25% of the total patents submitted, establishing the U.S. as the most innovative country yet again. For comparison, the only country to come close, Germany, filed 26,734 applications. Of these submitted, the U.S. was granted 31,136 patents in 2018, up nearly 25% from 2017.
Filing with the EPO grants companies protection in 44 European states and their 700 million consumers.
Despite such supremacy as a whole, U.S. companies individually did not dominate the top 5 in terms of the most filings submitted. United Technologies Corp. was America’s top filer, submitting 1,983 applications, good for 5th on this list behind Siemens AG (#1), Huawei (#2), Samsung (#3), and LG (#4). U.S.-based Qualcomm (#7) and GE (#9) also ranked among the top 10, respectively.
Regardless, U.S. companies showed their superiority in certain sectors such as information technology, pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical technologies, and other research-heavy industries. The U.S. accounted for 38% of computer technology, medical technology and pharmaceutical applications and 32% of biotechnology applications. Such dominance reflects America’s investments in research and development and their commitment to protecting intellectual property. To read more about this story, click here (via Bloomberg, March 12th, 2019).
2.) “Data: China Has the Most Blockchain Patents, Despite Banning Cryptocurrency”
An investigation of World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) patent data by authors at The Next Web found that 2018 was a peak year for blockchain-related patents with at least 1,060 patents published. In 2017, 971 were published and 2016 saw just over 200. This brings the total number to 2,747 published dating all the way back to 1978. Such immense growth over the past couple of years highlights the increasing interest in the technology and companies’ intention on incorporating it.
What is remarkable is that such growth comes at the heels of the 2018 cryptocurrency crash which saw bitcoin and other related cryptocurrencies plunge 80%. It is worth noting that blockchain and cryptocurrency are not interchangeable. Blockchain is used as a ledger for transactions (including crypto ones) whereas cryptocurrency is used as an exchangeable currency. Nonetheless, despite such instability in the cryptocurrency market, there is still a huge interest in developing new blockchain technologies for uses outside of cryptocurrency as evident by the patents published.
Of the 2,747 published, China ranks number one with 790 patents, followed by the U.S. with 762. From there, it drops off with South Korea at number three with 161 and Australia with 136. The United Kingdom was the only European country to place in the top 10 with only 36 patents.
As for who is leading the blockchain patent revolution, it is not universities as some would believe. The same cryptocurrency and blockchain technology originally meant to circumvent centralized organizations is now being heavily invested in and pushed by these institutions. Mastercard, Bank of America, Visa, and other banks are among the most prolific patent holders. Still, it is a field dominated by tech giants with nChain Holdings and IBM the top two holders. To read more about this story, click here (via The Next Web, March 13th, 2019).
3.) “Drive-in Theater? Ford Patents Pickup Bed Movie Screen System”
Ford received a patent for an “entertainment support system” in February that will transform a pickup truck bed into a movie theater. The accessory, attached to the bed of the truck, would be able to support projectors and speakers for the ultimate tailgate or driveway viewing experience. The patent also calls for the inclusion of a vertical telescoping arm that would be able to swivel in either direction of the bed.
Whether Ford has plans to include the accessory or there is even a demand for it is yet to be seen. It is one of many innovative patents carmakers have mulled over to gain a foot in the competitive market. To read more about this story, click here (via FOX News, March 11th, 2019).
4.) “Intellectual Property Cases Rise in China”
In 2018, Chinese courts tried 288,000 intellectual property rights (IPR) cases, an increase of 41.8% from the previous year. 8,325 people were prosecuted for patent and trademark infringement offenses in 2018, up 16.3% from 2017. As for cases processed, that number is 34,794, an increase of 22.1%.
The unprecedented efforts by a country that neglected to protect IP over the years comes after the country’s highest court, the Supreme People’s Court, set-up a tribunal for IPR-related cases. State Intellectual Property Office head Shen Changyu says the country is putting efforts into “the construction of the intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as 19 tribunals for IPR-related cases to improve the legal environment for technological innovation.”
As the trade warlooms and international pressure builds on China to increase IP protection and enforcement, 2018’s statistics indicate the tide is turning in the country. With greater protection, foreign companies will undoubtedly feel safer having their IP in the country. To read more about this story, click here (via Business Standard, March 12th, 2019).