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One aspect of a patent strategy is a foreign patent filing strategy. But were should patent applications be filed? Two selection criteria are a market's size and rate of growth. Germany, for example plans to put more digital solutions in their factories than the US does. Apparently: It would appear that a European patent application (which covers Germany) or a German national patent application would be a good idea for IoT solutions for predictive maintenance, autonomous robots and assistance systems. Other ideas for a foreign patent filing strategy include: Build a defensive position by filing patent applications in countries in which your company has a business interest. Increase your negotiating power by filing patent applications in countries in which your competitors have business interests, and in countries that manufacture products in the company’s technology area. Scale the scope of geographical patent coverage in accordance with technical idea importance.
There are three things Rising IoT companies need to know: what technologies their competitors are developing, who might be a friendly acquirer (Google and Apple are frequent acquirers, for example), and potential litigation risks. A patent analysis can answer these questions, and inform patent strategy. For example, developers of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology may benefit from knowing that: there are over 1000 patents filed and granted for this central IoT technology, Broadcom is the largest holder of BLE patents, and Broadcom has not been involved in substantial litigation and have a friendly licensing program. Knowing that, a BLE developer may feel encouraged – there are no obvious signs that they will be wiped out in a patent dispute. The interest in building a portfolio of BLE patents is not surprising because it: has ultra-low peak, average and idle mode power consumption, runs years on standard coin-cell batteries, is low cost, has multi-vendor operability, has an enhanced range, and can be integrated into small devices. All of these properties are enablers of IoT. BLE developers may also want to know what countries to file patent applications in. Most of the patents in the BLE space are filed in the US (1056 in 2015) and Europe. Some are filed in China and Japan (4 BLE patents were filed in Australia in 2015). This suggests that filings should be made in at least the US and Europe. A BLE developer who wants to export technology to the US and Europe would do well to perform freedom-to-operate searches in the US and Europe, in view of where competitor’s patents are filed. While the example data discussed here is from the report Exploring the Internet of Things: Gaining Insights from Patent Analytics, published by Innography, the analysis can be performed for any IoT technology.