IP Recap #37

September 28, 2017


Cloudflare Crowdsourcing Validity Searches

And the group says….

Cloudflare is crowdsourcing prior art searches to fight NPEs

The Story

Upon receipt of communications informing of patent infringement, most companies won’t go as far as contesting the patents to avoid litigation costs. This has been the staple of NPE successes. However, there is something of a growing log of successes for companies that have fought back in interesting ways. Internet security company Cloudfare has added to this log by choosing to crowdsource patent searching by offering rewards to anyone who finds materials which can be used to challenge the validity of the patent brought against them rather than having a small number of experts searching in detail to find prior art to use in challenging the patent’s validity. The series of rewards is what the company is referring to as “just the start” of their campaign against NPE Blackbird.

Why it Matters

With such a vast amount of information available, including old research papers, product manuals, presentation materials, it is hard to do more than just scratch the surface of prior art materials. By opening up the searches to the general public, they can get more searches done if people are willing to take up the challenge, and if it gets results then this could change the way people look at validity searches.

Google pays $1.1B, gets rights to HTC IP

Now come with me

Google Doodle

The Story

Having enjoyed considerable success in the early days of the Android OS, HTC has fallen behind some of their competitors as the OS, and the smartphone market has matured. However, Google is looking to capitalize on some of the most valuable parts of HTC’s business, in the shape of access to their engineers and IP. Their Sept 20 press release states that this is to help support and develop their Pixel smartphones, and shows a very different tactic to that used when Google purchased Motorola in that HTC isn’t losing ownership of their IP, and Google is instead getting some of the engineers.

Why it Matters

Google is clearly investing a lot in their Pixel range of high-end smartphones. They clearly decided IP was what they really needed, and with licensing HTC’s patents, as well as buying up the engineers’ know-how, this could help Google innovate and protect their handset business.

Automotive Patent Filings May Indicate the Shape of the Future

Things are starting to look different

Shape Shifting car


The Story

The future for cars looks increasingly likely to be electric and automakers are veering off the traditional course to catch the attention of the public when it comes to what the next big innovation will be. The Wall Street Journal recently published an overview of automotive IP, which shows how Ford is looking at cars laid out like a round-table discussion room, Toyota is looking at making door pillars appear transparent. These are a few of the many other innovations we’re seeing from leading auto players. Other innovations are coming from tech companies too, with Alphabet’s Waymo filing a patent for a shape-shifting car that can become flexible in the event of a collision. As the future of cars looks increasingly tech-based, they show that patent filings in major auto companies have taken off in recent years, which may be indicative of a coming tech revolution.

Why it Matters

Patent filings can reveal technologies long before they are actually launched, so a look at the patents can help highlight upcoming tech trends. While not all these inventions will necessarily make it to the market, the volume and diversity of the technologies do show that it is very likely that cars are about to change dramatically.


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