IP Recap #61

February 1, 2019

IP Recap Archive

WIPO Green hits 3,000

The Story
Over 5 years since its launch, WIPO Green has just announced that it has amassed 3,320 technologies and 1,400 users. WIPO Green is a green technologies IP marketplace, designed to pair IP owners in environmentally friendly technologies with those looking to utilise green tech.

Why it Matters
Replacing a technology with a green version is almost always going to involve implementing new tech. And with new tech, comes IP, so these types of setups are a great initiative for giving innovative patent owners a platform so that they can be found by people/companies in the position to implement it. Presently, some big players from Germany, Japan, and China have purchased green patents through the platform. Ideally, this will help to reduce our impact on the planet.

Google Buying Fossil’s Smartwatches

The Story
Whilst smartwatches have technically been around since the 1990s in the form of calculator/TV remote watches, it wasn’t until 2014 that they started to make an appearance as part of Apple and Google’s product lineups, with both companies launching their devices that year as part of their smart-gadget ecosystems. Since then the market has divided into premium watch brands and the tech players competing against each other, but it would appear that Google may have decided to play both games, with their recent acquisition of Fossil’s Smartwatch tech.

Why it Matters
Whilst Google has Wear OS, their operating system for wearable devices, they don’t as yet have a flagship smartwatch available directly from their own store. Launching a smartwatch of their own would echo their approach to phones. For example, when Android phones first came out it took around 4 years of only shipping OSs before they started their own Nexus range of phones running Android. Alternatively, this could be an IP play, with Google acquiring the tech owned by Fossil, and this could mark the beginning of a “watch war” if Google has found key IP which they could use against their rivals.

AI Shaking Up Design Around Possibilities

The Story
Patents are key to pharmaceutical success, as protecting the chemical compounds used allows drugs and medicines to be protected where they could otherwise be easily copied. Once you protect a compound and prevent others from selling it, then you own the rights to your drug for it’s lifetime and cannot be undercut. However, key to this model working is the idea that one cannot easily find an alternative chemical formulation with the same properties. As with all patents, the ability to design around it is a major driving factor in the usefulness of the IP. However, it would appear that a new AI tool on the market could be facilitating just that for chemical patents.

Why it Matters
By using AI and specifying some initial constraints which identify key bonds in patented formulations of drugs they can “design around” the other bonds until an unpatented way of creating compounds with the same properties has been found. While this could lead to a price cut for all drugs, it is simply recreating existing knowledge to some degree rather than finding truly new treatments. Alternatively, this tool could be used by those who have discovered a drug in order to protect their IP more comprehensively, albeit at a much greater cost. Could this be a patent-breaking piece of tech which causes new legislation?

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