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Automobiles are quite a few factors to lots of people. At their coronary heart,
they are a main method of transportation that ferry travellers to
and from areas, including cities, states, countries, and even
continents, giving a perception of id for some and essential
utility purpose for some others.
In this way, vehicles and other automobiles have turn out to be essential to
contemporary lifetime – and as a end result of new innovation, they’re
starting to be even a lot more integral.
Vehicles have turn out to be much more than just a method of transportation
they have built-in by themselves with our electronic life and
automated everyday capabilities. Technological enhancements that when
appeared mostly theoretical to a great deal of the general public extra than a decade
in the past have swiftly come to be a fact.
In a prior posting, we examined a variety of IP troubles
confronting automotive companies associated to patenting AI-related
inventions, which includes patent eligibility, inventorship, and trade
In this post, we contemplate enhancements in automotive
systems, the two from patent filings and from the point of view of
historical litigation trends in emerging technologies, touching on
features of autonomous vehicles, related automobiles, and design and style
A wave of technological innovation has pushed the IP footprint
of car or truck companies over and above the essentials of automotive style and design and
into realms that experienced formerly been recognised as substantial tech.
But background has demonstrated that the potential for litigation
improves as corporations stake positions on innovation, current market share,
and differentiation from rivals in quick-growing tech – as
evidenced by the arrival of the electric powered gentle, heavier-than-air
flight, and the so-identified as smartphone wars.
In modern years, there has been a marked raise in patent
filings encompassing autonomous vehicles, AI, and connected
vehicles, which may well sign the possible for greater
litigation as these technologies integrate into the
As know-how will become much more built-in and continues to cross
marketplace boundaries, car businesses will require to grapple with
common vital patents (SEPs), which have found traditionally
elevated litigation for cellular, smartphone, and laptop
manufacturers, and significantly less so for automotive corporations.
In addition, developments in obtaining layout patents to shield
styles of substitution sections may provide more avenues for
automotive providers to prevent counterfeit products, allowing them
to strengthen brand illustrations or photos, assure high-quality of parts, and preserve
A current federal appeals court’s final decision upholding the use
of layout patents for substitute elements has brought elevated
focus to the potential that structure patents may well provide.
It can be no magic formula that automotive firms are producing
technologies at an outstanding rate and investing sizeable
assets to do so.
Patent applications filed for autonomous motor vehicles and related
vehicles continue to rise globally and are among the fastest
expanding technologies in the automotive business.
Notwithstanding core technologies in driving functions,
improved connectivity and consumer ordeals -these kinds of as infotainment
techniques, 5G integration, and other historically non-automotive
systems – are now integrated throughout the industry.
The modern raises in patent filings for autonomous motor vehicle
patents will affect the two passenger cars and trucks with self-driving modes and
totally autonomous vehicles, this kind of as autonomous trip sharing and taxi
Late-stage screening deployments and early rider programmes are
already bringing these technologies into the mainstream of public
everyday living. For instance, synthetic intelligence is now a driving drive
guiding autonomous car or truck progress and is one of the swiftest
escalating segments in the automotive field and patent filings.
Although the ongoing progress and technological enhancement of
driverless motor vehicles is seen as a optimistic progression in the
shopper driving encounter, it also raises troubles related to SEPs
and, in unique, 5G.
A person gain of SEPs is the prospective for simplifying licensing
when declared and certified under the specifications location bodies’
An IPlytics examine in January 2020 identified that more than
95,000 patents were declared normal important with regard to
Of individuals, nearly a quarter of the patent families declared have been
also declared necessary to former 2G, 3G, or 4G criteria.
Some patent entrepreneurs not subject matter to SEP declarations have tried using to
enforce patents they thought had been crucial to standards as
technologies arrived to marketplace. These types of litigations surrounded 802.11
Wi-Fi standards, 3G, and LTE in the late 1990s and 2000s.
Not too long ago, even though not especially specific at 5G technological innovation,
Conversant sued Tesla more than Tesla’s integration of 3GPP and
4G/LTE standards at the District Court for the Western District of
This circumstance was dismissed in December 2020, but could signal the
opportunity for litigation encompassing SEPs and automotive organizations
in the long run.
SEPs may perhaps also come to be significant to carry autonomous vehicles into
the mainstream, not just to converse around mobile networks, but
also with auto manufacturers to assure that autonomous motor vehicles
type a cohesive ecosystem.
As cars develop into far more related, they may well also turn into additional
reliant on customarily non-automotive providers’ technological know-how
to be cost-free of IP problems.
One example is the integration of infotainment techniques that are
appropriate with other digital units. Patent plaintiffs do not
usually allege infringement of the supply of engineering but can
assert their patents against the top purchaser solution.
For illustration, considering the fact that 2011, additional than 40 district courtroom patent
infringement complaints have specially alleged infringement
associated to car infotainment programs, these as Bluetooth or
supplier software package, that may possibly not have been made by the
auto producer. Almost fifty percent of these instances have been submitted in
2020 or 2021.
Substantial tech companies in the client electronics space are now
transferring into the automotive room and establishing patent portfolios
on many technologies utilized in cars and vans. IP litigation in
purchaser electronics could, therefore, bleed into the automotive
Traditionally, patent litigation has enhanced after durations of
powerful technological innovation, and could be perceived as a
marker for competitive innovation.
Some of the earliest ground-breaking technologies had been met with
high-profile IP litigation. For illustration, the commercially feasible
electrical lightbulb was litigated among Edison and Westinghouse in
a bid to garner the emerging electric powered light market and to
determine not just sector shares, but irrespective of whether the country would
adopt alternating recent or immediate present systems.
Heavier-than-air flight also noticed an IP war between the Wright
Brothers and Glenn Curtiss in the budding aviation sector. The
rise of smartphones led to large litigation in the smartphone
Specified the probable of autonomous vehicles, AI integration, and
other promptly expanding automotive systems, heritage implies
that enhanced litigation may be on the horizon.
Though automotive field gamers may not want to relive the
smartphone wars in competitor fits, future litigation hazards could
not appear from classic automotive competition.
As a substitute, they could begin in non-automotive fields, including AI,
SEPs similar to 5G, and electrical infrastructure.
RPX lately posted a research obtaining a 182% increase in automotive
patent litigations filed by non-practising entities (NPEs) involving
Q3 2020 and Q3 2021.
Though quite a few other industries also saw rises in NPE litigation,
the rise in automotive was the largest of any sector analyzed in
This increase correlates with a general uptick in litigations since
2018, but it is well worth noting that the period concerning 2010 and 2015
also marked the large point in litigations filed towards automotive
entities, according to LegalMetric data.
Even though patent litigation is pushed by a lot of components in the
industry, external aspects, these as governmental conclusions, may well shape
the marketplace and the improvement of systems.
For illustration, California not too long ago set a purpose to have all
mild-duty autonomous car or truck sales be zero-emission automobiles by
2030, and all private automotive product sales be electric powered cars (EVs)
A number of countries and governments outdoors of the US have also
set or proposed aims for expanding electric powered car profits and
setting criteria for autonomous vehicle safety guidelines.
Such directives, if held to, may perhaps direct innovation, which include
patent filings and litigations.
They also demand long term investments in infrastructure and may perhaps
outcome in a increased demand from customers for specific kinds of automobiles in the
As this kind of, EV charging infrastructure, gas mobile engineering, and
EV technological know-how – now close to the forefront of patent filings – may possibly
come across alone as an emerging space of litigation as providers spend
in these systems to satisfy governmental and regulatory
Governing administration directives might also have ripple outcomes in
non-automotive utility industries that dovetail with
As the number of and have to have for electric powered charging stations
boost, the electric power grid need to bear the further load, probably
crossing more than into grid infrastructure patents.
A 2020 California Unbiased Process Operator report mentioned that
enhanced utility use from substantial temperatures, source adequacy,
and planning processes were most likely contributors of rolling
Investments in electric powered car technologies could, consequently, contact
not only on the engineering of the charging stations them selves, but
also the better infrastructure supporting those people technologies.
Design and style patents have come to be a strategically important IP asset
for automobile makers to, among other issues, stop counterfeit
sections and provide high quality handle about the design and style and visual appeal of
their goods, when utility patents or trade gown assertions might
not be possible.
Design and style patents allow automakers to protect non-useful
features of components and to carry accommodate from infringers who
make, market, or provide to offer a product or service employing a shielded
Style and design patent litigation relating to automobile pieces has
been given improved focus in the courts all through the earlier handful of
In two recent views, the Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit held that style and design patents may possibly protect styles for
replacement automobile areas – see Ford v New Planet
Global from 2020 and Automotive Physique
Elements Association v Ford from 2019.
This sort of confirmation could serve to bolster protection for
suppliers and pave the way for achievable enforcement towards
counterfeiters and knock-off products.
Style and design patents may perhaps be a generally defensive or protective space
at this time, but the recent appeals court choices could
reinforce automotive manufacturers’ assurance in the
significance of style and design patents in defending their brand names and
Notably, just one of the most watched patent litigations in latest
history concerned design patent assertions from Apple towards
Samsung covering the style of graphical consumer interfaces.
As automotive corporations proceed to combine systems and
enhance user experiences, many of which are pushed by graphical
person interfaces, which includes infotainment systems and the substitution
of common, analog gauges with improved digital shows,
design and style patent defense may perhaps more differentiate and provide
protection for automotive suppliers looking to supply exceptional
and identifiable user encounters to customers.
As time goes on in the quick-evolving automotive field,
state-of-the-art automotive systems will continue on to affect not
only patent filings but also the likely for IP litigation.
The articles of this posting is supposed to offer a common
tutorial to the issue make a difference. Professional assistance really should be sought
about your specific instances.