IP litigation in auto sector expected to rise, according to new research

10 July 2018

86% of industry experts expect to see more litigation over intellectual property (IP) rights in the automotive sector due to connected and autonomous vehicles, new research suggests.

Insight gathered by Managing IP, in conjunction with international law firm Gowling WLG, has been compiled into a report discussing the growing role of IP in the connected and autonomous vehicles sector and the issues which could arise.

Featuring data, case studies and analysis from industry experts, the research also found that 80% of survey respondents identified patents as the most significant IP right, with 65% reporting an increase of patent filing in the automotive industry.

For example, an in-house counsel at a tier 1 supplier said: "Since 2015 we have dramatically increased patent applications and geographical coverage, and 50% of our filings are in new technical areas."

The growth is particularly marked in certain technologies. "Three years ago, our IP programme was minimal. We have now built our patent portfolio substantially and internationally," said one lawyer in a LiDAR company.

Yet there is widespread concern that changing business models and new entrants to the industry raise challenges for IP management in the industry. One in-house counsel said: "Relatively few people in the auto industry understand patent licensing. With so many offers out there, it will take a lot of work to convince people they should be paying."

The emergence of autonomous vehicles and other technology within the automotive sector raises many questions relating to intellectual property, yet only 34% of those interviewed think IP laws need to be updated to facilitate autotech development.

This report looks at several of these questions, such as:

  • How will new developments be incentivised?
  • Which IP rights will be important?
  • Which companies will own the valuable IP?
  • Is there a role for technical standards, technology transfer or compulsory licensing?
  • Are there competition law issues?
  • Will open source play a significant role?
  • Who should own/control data that is generated?

The research process

The report is based largely on in-depth interviews with representatives of car manufacturers, telecoms companies, automotive industry suppliers, lawyers and patent attorneys, all of whom agreed to speak anonymously. The research began in November 2017 and was completed in June 2018.

The report also draws on published research by patent offices, government agencies and others: a list of further reading, with links, is included at the end of the report.

As part of the research, 219 IP professionals completed an online survey: the results of this are shown in 11 charts.

A Steering Committee comprising representatives from across the industry was established and met to discuss some of the preliminary findings in April 2018, to help establish the framework.

You can access this report here and if you would like any further information please contact us at natalie.canter@managingip.com

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