A Celebration of the Intellectual Property within the world of sports
Over the years, ClearViewIP has published a handful of articles illustrating the relevance of IP in various sports and fitness-related technologies. From advanced materials and emerging tech to specific products, brands, logos, and designs, we’ve looked at the intangible assets as they relate to the strategic growth and success of patent owners.
After the 2016 Master’s we analyzed the top 10 golf brands from an IP perspective. We started with the total number of patents filed and broke down the numbers to see who the “top players” in the industry were. The patents were categorized by their primary IPC classification codes and high-level manual reviews were conducted to identify the categories of training tools and accessories with golf-specific patents. This report was run before both Nike and Adidas left the hard goods side of golf. For a sport that is so traditional, it’s interesting to see how much innovation and technology is involved in the game.
In Dec 2015, with the winter sports in season, we explored the role of patents in the Alpine skiing industry to see if we could find any areas where ski equipment was evolving. What we found was that technology advancements in core skiing equipment saw a spike in the mid 1990’s and over time gradually declined. This didn’t mean innovation was completely stagnant. The patent data showed us the innovations were mostly happening in peripheral gear like helmets and goggles. Wearables and connected devices were being applied to skiing gear and it was interesting to see how they were being integrated into the sport.
Fast forward three years and our predictions were accurate. January 2019 the AR ski helmet, the Mohawk was brought to market incorporating a handful of head-up-display features –
The Mohawk is equipped with the latest Augmented Reality (AR) technology. A built-in miniature camera scans the surroundings on the piste, and on the visor the user can call up various visual data such as speed, altitude and a navigation system. Built-in headphones and a microphone enable live communication with friends by text messaging, audio or video. Particularly useful: an SOS button that may save your life in an emergency situation.
In this article, we covered the areas of innovation where Formula 1 was having an impact outside of the sport. KERS was the example we highlighted and it was interesting to see the technologies being developed within the sport are used in the real world. This clearly illustrated how F1 is contributing to high tech innovation and proactively using patents to protect and exploit the long-term value of these innovations in various new market places, including automotive, health care and big data.
Since winning the tour in 2012, Team Sky has dominated the Tour de France, winning 6 of the last 7 editions as well as 4 of the last 5 grand tours. In light of this, ClearViewIP thought it would be interesting to look into the IP in the sport. Team Sky is generally regarded as one of the most technologically advanced teams in pro cycling. In honor of the tour, we took a look at the cutting edge of cycling technology and it was interesting to see just how much IP exists in pro cycling.
The 2015 Women’s World Cup was held in Canada and there was a lot of press discussing the use of turf and the impact on the players and the speed of the game. This gave us the idea to explore all the patents filed for artificial turf. Also at these games, the Halo, a performance headgear was used in the tournament and Adidas provided the bespoke match ball, the Conext15 and they have already announced the Context19. The next women’s world cup will be the summer of 2019 in France.
A lot has changed in the wearable technology and fitness tracking space since we first researched the topic in 2014. In our previous article, we cited Deloitte’s 2014 TMT report which predicted the sales of smart glasses, watches, and wristbands. At that time, the wearable computing market predictions were all over the place, ranging from a projection of sales less than 50 million units to more than 300 million in 2018. The vast difference between the predictions reveals the tricky nature of forecasting an evolving market at a time when even the consumers themselves are uncertain about the value proposition of the wearable devices.
Jawbone’s demise in 2017 cast doubt on the wearable industry. However, four years since Deloitte’s report, according to the IDC sales report, the wearable market has been steadily increasing and reached 172.2 million in worldwide shipments in 2018. The top 5 companies in wearable sales in 2019 are Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei, Fitbit and Samsung which largely align with the mobile phone markets, with the exception of Fitbit. This suggests that while it is difficult for a startup to survive in the wearable market, it is a different game for larger players who can leverage their customer base and existing device ecosystem to boost sales.
Many believe that the next frontier for wearable brands is the healthcare market where wearable devices focus on more sophisticated healthcare use cases. Both Apple and Fitbit have already added medical related features in their products, for example, Apple unveiled their FDA-approved heart rate sensor last year and Fitbit teamed up with Google to work with doctors to provide personalised healthcare. It is also worth noting that the former CEO of Jawbone, Alexander Asseily went on to co-found elvie, a femtech wearable designed to help women exercise and strengthen their pelvic floors.