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Keeping up with automotive patents

The automotive sector is experiencing significant disruption. The established manufacturers, their suppliers and new entrants need to consider how this transformation will change their understanding of patents. In a recent article by Aistemos CEO, Nigel Swycher and CTO, Steve Harris, published in IAM magazine, the authors explored the impact of electrification, autonomous and connectivity on those who work in or advise the sector. Here are some of the highlights.

First, some scene setting. Patent portfolios are not created, they evolve. It took well over 150 years for the automotive industry to get where we are today. The chart below analyses the last 10 years of patent activity for the top 10 OEMs and Tier 1s. Since 2000, portfolios have doubled in size with a marked increase in patenting by suppliers.

Chart 1: OEMs and supplier portfolio size (2000-2015)

The following charts analyse the technology focus of OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. These charts are generated by Cipher Automotive using AI classifiers.

Chart 2: Global Tier 1s, patented technologies

Chart 3: Global OEMs, patented technologies

This type of analysis is critical as the relationship between manufacturers and suppliers change, not least to include the many new participants that are essential to the delivery of the fully autonomous electric vehicle. The recent announcements by Microsoft, Nvidia and Intel all highlight the reality that cars will be part car and part phone – and that the industry needs to adapt to new ways of working and collaborating.

The analysis concludes that automotive disruption will provide a range of new opportunities for those involved with patents, and offers some practical advice on how best to ensure that information locked within the patent system is shared within an organisation. This includes the need for patent teams to integrate with the R&D and engineering teams. This will generate a shift in perspective – patents as a source of value. Similarly, if patents are front and centre when the key technology decisions are made, it is more likely that the IP risks in the ecosystem and supply chain are appropriately mitigated.

With so much innovation and so many industry-defining decisions to be made, Cipher Automotive fills the gap between the information required and the analytics which are readily available. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, it is now possible to share information about the patent system at a speed and in a form required by the strategic decision makers.

While it is repeated as a doctrinal truth that intellectual property is a strategic asset, the task of making this a reality falls to those who work in the sector.

Read the full IAM article here

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