Intellectual Property News Recap

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RoboCop could be coming to the wheel world

“Excuse me, I have to go. Somewhere there is a crime happening.”

Ford files patent for RoboCop

The Story

The 1987 film Robocop was envisaged as a way of introducing super-efficient policing to an underfunded police department in a dystopian Detroit. Concerns about police safety are rife in today’s politics, which might have been what inspired Ford to file a patent application for an autonomous police vehicle. Or, is this just life imitating art?

Why it Matters

Applying an autonomous car for police use sounds obvious, but the clever bit that Ford has filed for is how the car does the policing. The car is able to use sensors (onboard or roadside) to detect what other road users do, then uses an AI system to analyse their behaviour and detect infractions and pursue/issue warning/issue citations. This would be much cheaper than salaried personnel, as well as providing very objective judgments, and could be an example of merging two trends to produce something game-changing, if adopted.


Google and Tencent Both Break New Ground

Google’s new head of IP looks to scale the great wall

The Story

Google and Tencent have both surprised onlookers by signing a cross-license agreement. This is a very big move, as the portfolios are thought to be somewhat complementary to each other, and could open the door to technical collaboration. This partnership allows Tencent to gain access to some early international patent filings, which could give them an edge over their competitors.

Why it Matters

Google famously blocked their core services in China, but this shows that Google isn’t staying out of the game entirely. As the first big move since Google changed their head of patents, this could signify that things are going China-wards for Google.


Apple is Sirious About Voice Commands

Hush hush, keep it down down, voices carry

Apple patent to Whisper to Siri

The Story

While Apple fanatics are being very vocal about how the company is finally getting in on the smart speaker craze, bringing Siri into the home via the incoming HomePod, it would appear that Apple has quieter things on its mind. As Siri makes her way from phones to homes, cars, and wherever apple chooses to take her next, the company has recognised that you might not always want to talk at full volume and instead has filed a patent on speech recognition for whispered voice commands.

Why it Matters

The digital assistant space looks to be heating up as the next big battleground between the big giants now that the smartphone wars have gotten a little old. With Google assistant, Alexa, Bixby, and Cortana all competing to get you speaking to them. Apple may be looking in a different direction in search for an edge, by looking at whispered voice commands, which would certainly circumvent the issue of speaking to an assistant only to find you have to explain you weren’t talking to the people within earshot who are now asking you what you said, as well as being useful for any other applications where you don’t want to disturb anyone, such as if your passenger is asleep in the car.


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