Stepping into the unknown – Hogan Lovells launches guide to help businesses protect their IP in face of disruptive technologies

From 3D-printed drugs to wearable technology and artificial intelligence, emerging technologies will increasingly disrupt traditional industry in 2017 and impact on how businesses protect, enforce and manage their intellectual property, according to the first Global Intellectual Property Outlook from global law firm Hogan Lovells.

Two steps forward, and a look back presents key trends and their influence on Intellectual Property (IP) and technology law in 2016, and the opportunities and challenges they present to businesses in 2017.

Andreas von Falck, global head of Intellectual Property, Media & Technology at Hogan Lovells, said:

"In 2016 we worked with our clients on award-winning deals, business-critical cross-border litigation, precedent-setting cases, and global intellectual property strategies against a backdrop of a dramatic shift in the political landscape, which left businesses trying to assess what impact Brexit and the new U.S. administration would have on operations, relationships and policy around the globe.

"Meanwhile the EU finally set out its action plan to implement its Digital Single Market strategy, the UK government announced it would ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement, and the U.S. government passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

"So we are at an important juncture where, when so much of the value of many businesses is tied up in their IP, and emerging technologies continue to disrupt traditional industry, developments in IP and technology law around the world will be crucial for business in 2017 and beyond."

Emerging technologies discussed in Two steps forward, and a look back include:

  • 3D printing – decentralizing the creation process from individual manufacturers, reducing the need to assemble goods on-site, and increasing the ability to customize products, 2017 will see even more 3D printed products, including medical devices and pills, enter the market. This brings with it risks including circum-navigation of design rights, trademarks and patents via non-commercial use at home, and risk of cyber-attack.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) – from robotics, autonomous vehicles, and consumer devices to health and pharmaceutical technologies, AI is being used to solve complex problems, improve decision-making, and develop new products and processes. It's possible that as an AI system learns and modifies its behavior, a resulting product or process might infringe patent claims, while questions could be raised over the ownership of AI-developed inventions.
  • As the potential for 'blockchain' technologies continue to be explored for a wide range of uses across the financial institutions sector and beyond, 2017 will bring more certainty on what subject matter in a blockchain network is patent-eligible and a subsequent increase in patent filings.

The publication also includes advice on connected cars, digital health, wearable tech, and smart energy systems, the likely impact on business of government initiatives including the Digital Single Market and the Unified Patent Court, commercial issues such as cybersecurity, and geo-political issues including Brexit, along with developments in more traditional areas of IP law such as patents, copyright, trademarks, trade secrets and domain names.

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Where case studies are included, results achieved do not guarantee similar outcomes for other clients.

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