Intellectual property and disruptive technology

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Technological leaps are always going to create disruption. The period of innovation that we are currently experiencing now is no different. What is interesting about this era of change is each technology’s potential to penetrate almost every industry and every aspect of our working lives. In doing so, big questions are raised for businesses. Intellectual property (IP) and disruptive technology will now need to be contemplated together and businesses must start to consider whether there is risk or reward waiting for them in the future.

Whether we like it or not, technology is creating noise. The likes of 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), connectivity/the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain are already being seen to disrupt markets and change the products and services that businesses are able provide. Yet the conversation surrounding IP needs to be making the same level of noise. IP is involved in technology at all levels and if ideas are the currency of the 21st century then the ability to protect them is what will give them that value.

Exploring intellectual property and technology law

Our report Swipe Right: Smart choices in disruptive times explores why it is important to protect IP rights and how businesses need to sit up and see that there are risks and opportunities brought forward by disruptive technology that need to be understood.

Surveying legal teams and the C-suite, we reveal a stark difference that could prove significant in markets affected by new tech. With insights from international experts including representatives from Potter Clarkson, Gill Jennings, Joseph Joseph, PwC, Lerner David, Cipher, Queen Mary University of London and City, University of London we look at the strategic measures businesses should be considering and how a lack of licensing could lead to litigation.

Download our report and find out:

  • Why it is important to protect intellectual property rights
  • What technologies are important
  • Strategies to consider to avoid risk and gain reward
  • How businesses can protect or license software and technology
  • Where technology should be protected in the global supply chain
  • Recommendations to navigate the IP landscape against fast-moving tech

Download the report

What is disruptive technology?

Technology has always been a catalyst for change. It alters how we interact with the world around us. Disruptive technology is where an innovation alters how a business or an entire industry operates.

Terminology such as PropTech, FinTech, and MarTech are specific examples of this, where technology has fundamentally changed how an industry does something. For example, RightMove in the 2000s disrupted the Real Estate market by changing how people bought and sold houses by enabling property to be advertised online.

The question that businesses need to answer for themselves is whether the tech emerging now and in the future will bring a positive or adverse impact to their operations and how they can prepare for it.

AI is the disruptor garnering the most attention, with 86% of respondents in our survey stating they were already investing in it. Yet there are many other disruptors to consider such as big data, autonomous vehicles and robotics that could have a major impact on companies.

How will disruptive technology impact businesses?

Graph of technology disruptors and how they will impact businesses. 85% of survey respondents believe artificial intelligence will have a positive impact on their business, 14% saw an adverse impact and 1% saw no impact. 80% of survey respondents believe connectivity/the Internet of Things will have a positive impact on their business and 20% saw an adverse impact. 58% of survey respondents believe big data will have a positive impact on their business and 42% saw an adverse impact. 70% of survey respondents believe cloud computing will have a positive impact on their business, 28% saw an adverse impact and 2% saw no impact. 75% of survey respondents believe autonomous vehicles will have a positive impact on their business, 24% saw an adverse impact and 1% saw no impact. 83% of survey respondents believe robotics will have a positive impact on their business and 17% saw an adverse impact. 75% of survey respondents believe personalised medicine will have a positive impact on their business and 25% saw an adverse impact. 76% of survey respondents believe efficient energy will have a positive impact on their business, and 24% saw an adverse impact. 76% of survey respondents believe gene editing will have a positive impact on their business, 22% saw an adverse impact and 2% saw no impact. 44% of survey respondents believe blockchain will have a positive impact on their business, 54% saw an adverse impact and 2% saw no impact. 70% of survey respondents believe 3D printing will have a positive impact on their business and 30% saw an adverse impact. 88% of survey respondents believe wearables will have a positive impact on their business, 9% saw an adverse impact and 3% saw no impact.

Developing an IP strategy for your company

While we have previously discussed digital transformation and how businesses can capitalise on what it has to offer, our latest report delves deeper into 12 innovations that will revolutionise industries and examines them from the perspective of an IP strategy.

A successful IP strategy should involve the whole business and be discussed from the top down. It's more than just a legal conversation and should be understood by the C-Suite as well as the likes of marketing, finance, IT and operations. Whether this understanding exists is a question that businesses and their legal teams need to be asking themselves.

But it's not only internal understanding that is needed when developing strategies in this area. Legal departments must become fluid, creative and not reliant on traditional forms of protection. While managing IP is the best way of protecting and monetising technological innovations, it's essential that businesses think about the current state of the law and whether it has the ability to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

In Swipe Right: Smart choices in disruptive times we discuss the key points that should be considered when developing an IP strategy for your company when using and developing disruptive technology. Download our report to get the essential recommendations when it comes to IP.

How can Gowling WLG help?

Swipe Right: Smart choices in disruptive times raises interesting areas for discussion around IP strategy and disruptive technology that will be relevant to nearly every business.

To help explore how disruptive and innovative technology can support your business' IP strategy, contact one of our experts in IP and technology.

Gordon Harris - Partner, Co-Head of Intellectual Property

Gordon helps clients to enforce and protect their valuable IP rights, particularly patents and designs. He conducts litigation in all UK and European courts for clients seeking to protect their IP, or those who have been accused of infringing other people's rights.

Alexandra Brodie - Partner, Co-Chair of Global Tech

Alexandra ensures that our firm-wide team is immersed in the tech sector so that it can provide not just focussed advice and strategy but also connections and introductions for our clients. She is intrigued by the ever-increasing reach of tech into all industries and her team has recently provided networking events for clients in fields as diverse as autonomous cars, e-retail, additive manufacturing, connected health and FinTech.

John Coldham - Partner

John is an expert in all types of IP strategy and litigation. His priority is to help clients to maximise the return on their investment in their IP, through strengthening their portfolio and strategically enforcing it against infringers.

Matt Hervey - Director

Matt Hervey is Head of Artificial Intelligence (UK) and advises on Artificial Intelligence (AI) across all sectors, including automotive, life sciences, finance and retail. Matt is a trusted intellectual property adviser, especially for clients with complex patent disputes, including SEP (FRAND) litigation

Intellectual Property and Information Technology Services