IP Recap #54

September 4, 2018

IP Recap Archive

NPEs Driving Automotive Litigation

The Story
As the smartphone patent wars began to slow, many speculated that the next big change would be a trend of moving litigation out of the US into Europe, and that there would be a new tech sector coming to the fore. A recent study from Darts-IP took a look at litigation in the automotive sector and have revealed some interesting trends. They found that US litigation has declined significantly, with cases filed in the US by automotive companies more than halving since 2015. However, when looking at cases brought against automotive companies, it is clear that the auto sector litigation is dominated by NPE plaintiffs, with 7 of the top 10 most litigious parties in this sector being NPEs, with Acacia coming out as #1.

Why it Matters
The rise in NPE activity is driven by both the need for new targets to bring patents against, and the adoption of new technology types by the automotive sector. Modern cars are becoming increasingly connected and “smart”, thereby opening the door to infringement accusations from players with strong patents older, related tech.

Chinese “Super Trademarks” for Super Protection

The Story
The Chinese trademark system can be tough to navigate. IPWatchdog recently published an overview containing a tip from IP practitioners. The trademark system tends to only give verdicts of infringement for very nearly identical marks in the same class of goods/services, making life hard for those trying to defend their business. It also has very narrow classes, which means protection is expensive as one needs to register their mark in every relevant subclass. There are also no measures to stop “trademark squatters” from blocking marks, such as a time limit for non-use. Instead, there is the cheaper method of applying for copyright protection for a design mark, which will automatically cover all goods/services.

Why it Matters
China is an increasingly important territory for businesses, yet it is also reported to be the largest producer of counterfeit goods, meaning companies will need to ensure they protect their products well in order to take the counterfeiters to task. Having a loophole for saving money can hopefully provide businesses with a useful way of obtaining IP rights and therefore enforce them against counterfeiters, which in turn will prevent consumers from buying sub-standard and potentially unsafe products.

Enough Caffeine and You’ll Be Flying

The Story
Coffee is one of the most popular commodities today, with the US drinking 3 cups per day per drinker, and coffee sales grossing more than 4 times that of tea in the UK. As people gradually shift from walking out to get things for themselves to using takeaway delivery services like Deliveroo or Uber Eats, and Amazon looks at drone-based delivery, IBM has gone a step further than simply merging the need for coffee and the use of drones. Instead, they have come up with a system to determine which users are in need of their caffeine fix, and fly some coffee in to remedy the situation.

Why it Matters
IBM are known to file many speculative patents, with the approach of filing broadly to ensure they capture important tech. The system talks of monitoring biometric aspects of the individuals such as pupil dilation, facial expression etc. And also of using “psychological effects” by serving celebrities first. They seem like prices to pay, but on the other hand you do end up with a coffee before you even realize you need it…

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