August 30, 2016
The 2016 Olympic games in Rio were a wonderful showcase of the world’s best athletes. It was also a showcase of the world’s best sports technology. Examples of some of the innovative technology getting attention leading up to the games included the “aeroswift” fabric and adhesive patches used by Nike in a bid to reduce runners’ air resistance. Nike is also filing a patent for a garment with panels of differing textureto reduce aerodynamic drag without adding additional clothing items (which may actually be banned from competition). Team GB also filed patents in the lead up to the games with patents covering drag-reduction systems for track cyclist such as specially vented helmets, air-channeling handlebars, and raised chevrons on the arms of skinsuits, all in a bid to reduce air resistance. However, given team GB’s secretive nature, it is entirely possible that these patents are red herrings aimed to distract their competitor’s R&D teams.
Innovation is also taking place off the track with Cisco filing a patent for interactive content where multiple feeds can be blended with VOD content in order to improve content delivery. This means the viewer will be able to choose what goes on their screen.
The Olympics is one of the oldest sporting events on the planet and raw athleticism will always be front and centre, but It’s always interesting to look at the science, innovations, and technologies that play a role in athletic performance and impact the fight for gold.
Over the last month, Niantic’s Pokemon Go has become a worldwide hit. Based upon the framework of the virtual reality game Ingress, the recent google spin out partnered with Nintendo to offer a virtual reality creature capture and battle game instead. It may come as a surprise that Niantic only has 3 patents themselves covering virtual objects in a parallel reality game, filtered communications, and server optimisations. Given the enormous user base, and the large profits that come from selling their resulting geolocation data to marketers, it seems likely they will have to license patents from others to facilitate the other aspects of the game, with Nintendo and Google the likely targets for a licensing tie-up given their close ties with Niantic. Either way, Niantic will likely have cases on their hands in the near future, given their revenues are so strongly dependent upon one highly technical product.
Recent reports have been showing a decline in US patent litigation and the US patent system has been taking measures to make patent litigation a more rigorous and complex process. In spite of this, Technicolor has emerged from some changes in the management team with an increase in revenues thanks to a number of large agreements for their video coding, digital TV, and STB portfolios. Technicolor is attributing this increase to their Chief IP officer, Arvin Patel, Rovi’s former senior VP of IP. They also don’t participate in a patent pool, but instead offer their patents for licensing via their own machinery in order to offer more flexibility with regards to agreements.
This goes to show that when the market is taking a downturn, you can still increase profits with a thorough understanding of your market and by using quality assets cleverly.