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Hedging Against An Uncertain Timeline for AV Market Adoption

While the automotive industry as a whole may be experiencing stagnant or declining growth, a new wave of collaboration has washed over the automotive industry in the first half of 2019.  Companies are opting towards working together to solve technical challenges, instead of taking on the risks and costs of going it alone.  This new wave may have been spurred by the realization that while technical advances are being made at a break-neck pace, the projected timeline for arrival and market adoption of autonomous vehicles was overly ambitious.

Another tool to hedge against this uncertain timeline is building a patent portfolio that can provide active, enforceable patents for up to 20 years.  Strategic patents can protect emerging technologies that have yet to achieve mass market adoption, but will likely be heavily adopted in a couple decades or form the foundation for must-have features in the future.  For example, and in no particular order, the top five current and future impactful areas of automotive innovation are:

  • Connected Car 

    • IoT & Cellular Connectivity, Infotainment, smart Play, Telematics, Media Integration, Smartphone & Apps, Advertising, Navigation, Wearables, Cyber Security)

  • Autonomous Car

    • ADAS, Sensors, V2X Communications, Autonomous Driving

  • Car Sharing

    • Car/Ride Sharing Features, personalized experience

  • Conventional Propulsion

    • Gasoline & Hybrid, Steering, Suspension & Brakes Control Systems, Engine & Traction Control Modules

  • Alternative Propulsion

    • Hybrid & EV, Wireless charging, Charging/re-fueling infrastructure

Many technologies within these five areas have yet to arrive to the consumer market, let alone receive mass market adoption.  Nevertheless, building a strategic patent portfolio around these technical advances can protect a company’s market position in the future and generate additional revenue streams as they materialize.

To strategically develop a comprehensive and future-proof patent portfolio, companies can first perform a competitive benchmark analysis or landscape analysis to determine the amount of innovation in technology areas of interest.  A deeper-dive into a technology area can reveal geographic hubs and key players, including their strengths/weakness and business practices.  This insight can help a company with market entry due diligence decisions, which can enable the company to not only differentiate themselves from the current market, but hopefully maintain this edge in the future when autonomous vehicles eventually become commonplace.

© 2020 Foley & Lardner LLP


About this Author

Chethan Srinivasa, foley lardner, intellectual property lawyer, patent law

Chethan Srinivasa is an associate and intellectual property lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. His practice involves all aspects of patent protection and strategic counseling in electronics and software practice areas including virtualization, cloud services, networking, content delivery, complex event processing, energy efficient lighting technologies, cable telecommunications (ingress/egress mitigation techniques), seismic exploration, GPS-enabled instrumentation, LED lighting solutions, and conservation voltage reduction systems. Mr. Srinivasa is a member of the...