Google, Apple, Nest Labs … what the “new patents” report
Frenchweb offers you a series to understand the challenges of patents for Internet companies.
Google supports Android and open source, but is it against intellectual property? No: Google has become in a few years the eighth filer of US patents, and continues to invest heavily to extend its protections. It is in fact the nature of patents that has totally changed. Traditional patents protect technologies, know-how and the work of researchers. New generation patents protect uses, products and economic models.
This awareness was brought about by Apple during the patent war. When Steve Jobs got angry with Android, which he considered a stolen product, observers expected a titanic battle between several thousand patents, each more technological than the last. However, only three patents of use, apparently derisory, allowed him to defeat Samsung: the zoom by spreading two fingers, the bounce when the list of the address book comes to the end, and the “double tap” to zoom. Each programmable in two minutes, their technological intensity is zero. In contrast, any child under the age of three has at least tried to zoom in on pictures in a book with two fingers, which proves the strength of their intensity of use.
Patents for use have become strategic. Nest Labs, which made itself famous with its famous connected thermostat, has since its creation in 2011, invested in the intellectual protection of its inventions of uses. “At Nest, what we’ve done is put the package on a ton of patents,” says co-founder Tony Fadell, “that’s the right thing to do when you want to disrupt big financial issues.” . His patent # 841 for example, describes how a network of thermostats, also equipped with seismic sensors, statistically predicts an earthquake. His patent # 255 describes how to save energy by anticipating the presence of inhabitants in each room. 36 other similar patents make it possible to preempt a real territory of uses for the connected home. However, it turns out that this market, which amounts to tens of billions, will double in the next five years when it does not require any cutting-edge technological expertise.
What strategy to adopt?
Between Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung, the one who will dominate this new market will be the one which will hold the best portfolio of patents for use. As a logical consequence, the valuation of Nest Labs has soared to more than 3 billion dollars, which the best bidder, Google, has therefore spent to win.
America’s digital giants are all involved. In the top 10, Apple, IBM and Microsoft, whose intellectual property strategy is old, are defending their rank by increasing the number of their deposits by 10% per year. But they are now imitated by newcomers. For 4 years, in addition to its acquisitions, Google has multiplied its annual deposits by 10, and the progress of Amazon, Facebook or LinkedIn is just as impressive.
French innovation doctrine is starting to move. In 2015, BPIfrance, the armed wing of France to finance innovation, found that its policy did not allow it to support the Blablacar, La Ruche qui dit oui, Ulule or Sculpteo. Its new strategy “new generation innovationToday allows him to take an interest in innovation in use.
This is an important step in the right direction. A few start-ups like Parrot or Withings have embarked on this path, but French entrepreneurs could be much more ambitious: they have always had the genius for new uses such as cars, planes, photography and telephones. or the cinematograph. However, the patent is still the best way to promote this genius in the face of American financial and commercial power. The user patent must therefore be included in the strategy of digital start-ups.
Vincent Lorphelin founded VenturePatents.com. This company helps start-ups and innovative SMEs to protect their innovations in use and even their business model thanks to patents. Co-President of the Institut de l’Iconomie, think tank of the digital economy, lecturer, Vincent Lorphelin is the author of five books including France’s economic rebound (Editions Pearson), co-authored by 85 entrepreneurs. @VLorphelin