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10th December 2018

Supersonic IP seminar @ Airbus

Cipher CEO Nigel Swycher delivered highlights from our report – Under attack from innovation – at the aerospace industry event.

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On 7 December, the Airbus Leadership University in Toulouse hosted the aerospace industry event the IP Seminar @Airbus. The event was centred on IP leaders from sector giants Airbus, Pratt & Whitney, BAE Systems, Thales, UTC and Safran with valuable contributions from a range of other sectors including Philips, Nestle, Volvo, Uber, Cummins, ThyssenKrupp and Microsoft.

Nigel Swycher presenting at Supersonic IP seminar

In an industry usually associated with secrets, the stand out theme of the morning was collaboration: the need for companies to share, fresh approaches to disputes and the impact of disruption. Our CEO Nigel Swycher delivered highlights from our report Under attack from innovation.

Bobby Mukherjee, BAE Systems, noted that as lines blur between defence and civil technologies, A&D companies will need to adapt and new valuation models may be required to ensure that technology is efficiently transacted. He highlighted the importance of IP data, noting

IP teams need strong relationships and efficient communication to align with business strategy.

It was great to see so many of the presentations referring to the use of analytics to make better decisions. In addition to Cipher, Olivier Gicquel from Airbus referred to how analysis of US examiner stats was being used to improve grant rates outcomes and there was a CPA Global presentation on how Blockchain can improve transparency and efficiency.

Alistair Scott, Vice President, Intellectual Property at Airbus, suggested that a major risk in collaborations was engineers’ willingness to share, which is not always consistent with organised IP rights management. Part of the solution is proactive, business-wide education and better communication of the importance of IP.

Speakers acknowledged that the industry has traditionally been relatively free of IP disputes. The strong relationships in the ecosystem which have maintained the status quo looks likely to be disrupted with the increasing importance of the technology giants and reliance on communication standards.

The afternoon continued the themes of collaboration and technology convergence. Jean-Marc Brunel from Safran and Satish Tiwary, Head of IP Analytics at Airbus, explored best practice in M&A and other commercial transactions. It was something of a shock to hear that IP can still be left until the last moment when it is often too late to address issues that go to the heart of deal value. The panel included a frank assessment to many approached to the valuation of intangible assets.

“ IP valuation is often a blend of hand waving and interpretive dance” Rob Keele, Airbus

Raymond Millien, Volvo and Toni Hickey, Cummins, led a thought provoking session on IP in the supply chain. The included a reminder of the technology collision course that many sectors faced with acceleration towards connected, autonomous, electrified and embedded systems.

The day closed with sessions outlining the impact of new entrants from Brazil, China and Canada – as well as the challenges in protecting IP in innovation clusters, start-ups and across innovation platforms. This linked back to the comments by Troy Prince, Pratt & Whitney, who had pointed out that in collaborating with new entrants the incumbents had to rethink to their approach to IP ownership. Otherwise, he warned, the opportunity to work with the next generation of innovators might be missed.

Credit to Premier Cercle for putting together this programme. It ticked all the boxes. Sector focus, holistic in its approach to innovation, brands and trade secrets and recognition that all industries affected by technology disruption have more in common than ever before.

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