The 5 Key Intellectual Property Developments and Trends in 2022
June 9th, 2022
Intellectual property is a critical part of the research and development strategies of companies across all industries. It is also instrumental in the invention and innovation stages of different products and services, as well as the economic development of nations.
It is no surprise that with the presence of new innovations and technologies, the number of patent and trademark applications have grown over the past century.
In 2021, the IP Indicators Report by the World Intellectual Property Organization found that there has been tremendous growth for patents and trademarks over the years, particularly the last decade. The number of patent applications increased by roughly 1.6% since 2020, while the number of trademark applications went up by 13.7%.
Intellectual property is also becoming more globalized. It is seen as a vital part of national development strategies, serving as a catalyst for programs geared towards employment, investment, social welfare, and growth. With the development of new technologies comes new ways for information to be studied and collected, and they are permeating every industry.
The coronavirus pandemic and more pressing global issues the last two years have certainly shifted the focus away from intellectual property, but there has been an increasing need for businesses and organizations to reinvest in it. With that, here are five key intellectual property developments and trends for this year.
1. The Unified Patent Court will be functional mid-2022 to early 2023
Outside the United States, patents are also being given more attention, and legislators are looking for ways to make patent and trademark applications more efficient.
The Unified Patent Court is currently in the works, and it is projected to be a common patent court for all the members of the European Union. There are many European Union member states applying for patents, so having a unified body for approving and checking patents should make the process much more easier and smoother.
This unified body is expected to start working mid-2022 to early 2023. This may lead to reforms in intellectual property law or patent filing rules in the member states, which would impact the way businesses, developers, and individuals approach filing. Member states may need to revisit their respective processes for patent and trademark applications and review their intellectual property laws.
2. More new companies across different industries will build their patent portfolios
Because of the pandemic, the world experienced a major economic hit. Now that the world is slowly opening up again and adjusting to the new normal, new companies are being formed and established. These companies will be set to build their own patent portfolios to attain their respective business goals, and this will attract venture capital. They are likely to obtain high valuations.
Older, more established companies may even have their eye on the younger companies, especially if these companies have solid intellectual property strategies in place.
On the flipside, they may also seek to re-establish themselves as industry leaders. This will have an impact on the way that patent portfolios are built, and there may also be a shift in the companies leading in patent filing.
3. Digital assets will become even more dominant in 2022
Digital assets, namely Bitcoin, have been around since 2009. However, they became more prevalent in the market over the next five years. More assets, blockchain-related inventions, and non-fungible tokens are being developed and launched to the public, and more patent applications related to digital assets are being filed.
However, despite the rising number of blockchain-related patents, case law for such inventions is still unclear. Non-fungible tokens, in particular, have seen an increase in their popularity with more developers and artists creating tokens of their own.
Patent applications for such technology are not seen to go down any time soon, so more definitive case law for inventions in this sector will be developed throughout 2022. It is considered a growing area of interest, and such technologies are projected to be more dominant over the next few years.
4. More courts and governments in key jurisdictions will show their stance on artificial intelligence
Along with blockchain and non-fungible tokens, artificial intelligence has proven to be another dominant technology.
More and more businesses are utilizing technology centered on artificial intelligence, and it is projected to be part of more business strategies in the future. At the Chinese patent office alone, the number of patent applications increased by over 500% between 2009 and 2019, 90% of which were found to be domestic. In the United States, there was a 35% increase in patent applications over the same timeframe.
Because of the prevalence of AI technology, more courts and governments will solidify their stance on it. Patents for artificial intelligence rely on algorithms and mathematical equations, both of which are not clearly defined in patent law. This makes patent applications more restricted, so patent law for AI technology will continually evolve.
Governments and patent courts in key jurisdictions will do one of two things: adapt artificial intelligence technology to existing laws for intellectual property protection or stick to the norms.
5. ITC will take a more dominant role in IP disputes moving forward in 2022
In the United States, the Tariff Act of 1930, particularly Section 337, has been instrumental in the protection of the intellectual property rights of United States patent holders. It has also protected the market from experiencing unfair competition over the past century. However, new technologies and industries are constantly emerging, and the line between what can be patented and what cannot is sometimes blurred.
The ITC, or the International Trade Commission, has played a key role for patent holders over the past few years, and it is expected to take over when handling disputes with intellectual property.
The shift towards the digital space and a more modernized economy is prompting the International Trade Commission to reassess its rulings to facilitate smoother processing. Additionally, it is expected that the PTAB will take a step back, as the ITC takes a more assertive stance towards patent issues.
The Future of Intellectual Property
These are the key trends that are expected to take over the intellectual property domain in the coming months. Some of these are taking shape as early as now, and experts are predicting that they will reshape the way intellectual property is viewed.
With new technologies becoming more dominant, refocusing and development of intellectual property law is a pressing need.