Aerospace & Defence under attack
Whilst technological advancement has always been vital for the Aerospace & Defence industry, technologies such as cybersecurity, ALM, IoT, augmented reality and wearables are disrupting the previously unassailable position of incumbent A&D companies.
In March 2017 GE Aviation announced its acquisition of the cloud-based digital records company Critical Technologies in order to strengthen its ability to focus on asset lifecycle management and maintenance optimization. Just one of many acquisitions that illustrate a trend to bolt-on as required.
Although A&D companies have strong patent portfolios, the IP strategy of A&D companies will adapt in order to counter the challenges posed by both established tech companies and new entrants. The chart below breaks down the technology areas of Top 10 A&D companies.
Chart 1: Top 10 A&D patent owners by technology (active patent families)
Traditionally, the A&D industry has not been litigious, especially when compared with the tech sector. Expect this to change as patent trolls move into this sector and tech companies leverage their patent portfolios.
Chart 2: Litigation against Top 20 A&D companies (ex GE and MHI)
Rather than competing directly with technology companies by moving into the ‘information value chain’, integration and collaboration between legacy A&D companies and technology companies appears to be more likely. In our A&D report, which can be accessed below, we analyse the patent landscape for several disruptive technologies including drones.
Chart 3: Top 10 patent owners in the drones area
Patent ownership is broadly distributed across A&D, tech and new entrants. China is also a force to be reckoned with.