New IP Trends in Europe: 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic has had widespread impact on business operations of patent offices across the world. Several countries have acquired patents but there is a need to leverage international filing protocols in order to decide the validity of their patents. Owing to information available in a centralized database, agreements such as Madrid Protocol and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) have helped to streamline IP filing and search procedures.

For example, the Patent Cooperation Treaty enables deferment of major expenses for international filings. The developments in Europe have shown new IP trends that can be highlighted.

Patent office’s review thousands of patent applications. Ensuring that each one of them meets all formal requirements is time intensive. There are certain fields where getting a patent in an accelerated manner becomes pivotal to protect all R&D efforts. E-filing online systems for filing and managing IP rights applications, implementing smart contracts to automate IP license and royalty agreements, using blockchain to secure and protect IP rights through digital authentication and tracking of IP transactions, using AI assisted IP search as well as IP enforcement and litigation and using Big Data analytics to identify and monitor IP infringements become critical legal aspects to keep in mind while considering IPR for technology businesses.

Hence, a unified institution that can ensure patents are protected legally and recognised is necessary. Only when you know the value of your patents would you be able to make use of it appropriately.

 

Unified Patent Court (UPC)

The Unitary Patent (UP) system will allow applicants to get uniform patent protection in 25 EU Members systems by submitting one single request to the European Patent Office (EPO) after publishing of the granted European patent. The Unified Patent Court (UPC) will comprise judges from all participating Member States of the European Union. (UPC) covers patents legally through e-filing, electronic signatures that are recognized and legally binding in the UPC, providing online access to its case management system and digital storage. These legal tech aspects aim to improve the efficiency, accessibility, and fairness of the UPC’s patent dispute resolution process.

The court was set up to decide on the infringement and validity of both Unitary Patents and all European Patents. A three-month window for intellectual property owners to opt in or opt out of their European patents was expected to start on 1 January 2023. But IT challenges delayed this and the UPC is likely to start by 1 June 2023.

Once the UPC is set up, it should have a major impact on securing Intellectual Property Rights  across the EU. However, it raises the question about whether companies will risk putting their intellectual ideas into the new system? Which company will take the lead and file a case? What steps will the courts take to manage the cases filed? Can German and other European patent firms merge to bolster the UPC offerings? In the coming months, can non-practising entities journey across the Atlantic Ocean to use the UPC and will litigation funders be interested in Europe?

It is not easy to find answers to these issues but 2023 promises to see the UPC as a more active legal organisation.

Read here: How UPC can help in redefining your patent monetization strategy?

 

Main Advantages of Using UP

  1. National validation processes will not be required. A renewal fee will have to be paid to the EPO. It will also reduce the costs and time of the administration team.
  2. Post six-year period, no translations will be needed. During the transitional period, a complete translation of the European patent is required, however, the translation has no legal effect.

 

Revamp the Standard Essential Patents (SEP) 

The world of standard essential patents will be revamped in 2023. It is important for businesses to constantly assess whether all the IP assets are adequately protected.  A UKIPO review will take place on whether the SEP system is working as expected and how to make it run more effectively. In 2022, government reports stated that the volume of SEP litigation had risen dramatically.

In August 2022, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) discussed whether government intervention was necessary to promote advanced forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including arbitration and meditation. It would make suggestions to the government after detailed reviews and report its findings to the ministers in 2023. Any major policy interventions would be subject to further consultation and discussions.

It is obvious that there is no single solution to global concerns hence consensus is always difficult. Once the UPC comes into force it can try to make implementers agree to the advantages of the use of ADR.

SEP reform is also on the agenda in the EU in 2023. The European Commission, Managing IP is keen towards use-based licensing in the new and revised SEP framework.

In 2020, the commission had declared the launch of an Action Plan for Intellectual Property that aimed to lay down the base for creating a transparent, predictable and efficient system of SEP. However, the EU is still not provided an estimate on when the plan is to be completed. There is a need to identify IP assets in order to manage IP. This involves finding the patents, trademarks, brand names, domain names, and any other tangible and intangible assets of the company that is being investigated.

 

Brexit Issues for IP Practitioners

In 2023, the main Brexit-related issue for IP practitioners and Legal experts is the Retained EU Law Bill (Revocation and Reform), passed on 23 September 2022. It plans to repeal any retained EU law, covering more than 60 pieces of IP legislation, by 31 December 2023.

The government has to decide whether to repeal law, convert it into national law, or make modifications in it. Several practitioners believe that the government has underestimated the scale of this task. IP assets like copyrights and patents are only valid for a certain period of time. Hence there is a need to study the local IP laws of each directory to check the validity.

 

For IP practitioners, here are a few critical legal pointers to be kept in mind in Brexit space:

  1. Jurisdiction and governing law in IP disputes: Disputes over IP rights may now involve conflicting laws and jurisdiction between the UK and EU.
  2. Trademark registration and protection: The UK and EU trademark systems are no longer harmonized, requiring separate registrations in each jurisdiction.
  3. Copyright protection and enforcement: The UK’s copyright regime has diverged from the EU, leading to potential inconsistencies in protection and enforcement.
  4. Patent protection and litigation: Changes in the patent landscape may result in the need for re-examination and grant of supplementary protection certificates for pharmaceuticals.
  5. Data protection and privacy: The UK’s exit from the EU may affect the flow of personal data between the two territories, requiring companies to adopt alternative mechanisms for data transfer.
  6. Customs enforcement and IP rights: The UK’s departure from the EU customs union may create challenges in enforcing IP rights at the border, including counterfeit goods and parallel imports.

 

Currently, over 60 laws ranging from statutory instruments and interpretations of EU directives to direct regulations have been shortlisted for review and modifications. In the near future there could be many more that come under the review of the UK government.

There will be discussions and analysis over the existing laws that were operational for a long period of time.

 

Rise in Third Party Funding Trend

Practitioners expect to see more cases funded by third parties in 2023. The UPC could contribute to this trend. In 2022, litigation funders observed increased cases of funded IP. They indicated further increase once the UPC became fully operational in the EU.

Investors like Erso Capital, declared a $500 million amount exclusively for patent cases. The decision to accumulate money specifically for patent litigation was a result of the rising demand in the tech and life sciences sectors in the EU. James Blick, co-founder of Erso Capital confirmed that this money would be available to companies across the globe. Erso was keen to expand in Europe. EU displayed a gap in the market left by funders that traditionally preferred the US. The nature of, and expectations in such funded cases with third party funding is going to be a significant area to observe in 2023. The investor fund would also be used to fund legal fees and expenses and help law firms that agreed to contingency fee arrangements. These examples show that countries need to be investor ready in order to expand business and patents.

 

Relevance of AI

In 2023, the UK Supreme Court is set to take up around four IP cases. A significant example is the DABUS case. This case could mark the end of artificial intelligence (AI) inventorship as it relates to patent applications. The court hearing will take place in March 2023, and could change the course of patent law in the UK and in other countries.

AI deployment in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) can be used to analyse patent applications, identify prior art, improve efficiencies and accuracy of the patent examination process. AI can be used for Trademark Infringement detection, contract analysis to improve the efficiency of legal research, IP portfolio management and legal predictive analysis to predict outcomes of legal disputes, helping parties to make informed decisions. These legal tech aspects demonstrate how AI is being used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the IPR process and to better protect the rights of IP owners.

Judges and legal practitioners are divided on one hand expressing sympathy for the idea of AI creators but on the other hand, also noted that the current letter of the law does not allow it.

The UKIPO wants to study and consider AI more closely, so conversations in this domain can increase. This should be seen in the context of the UK’s stated goal of becoming a “global AI superpower”. The UK government plans to enhance engagement with the legal and AI sectors, on issues of inventorship.

 

Conclusion:

Businesses need to follow unified patent protocols in order to continue the path to innovation and avoid legal disputes and disturbances.

Researchwire is an ISO 27001 certified, specialised IP research and R&D support company. We work closely with IP & legal teams to provide patent portfolio services and all types of patent searches & patent drafting. We provide enterprises and R&D centres with insightful and effective solutions to address their technology development challenges and roadmap planning.

If you are looking to speed up your patent process, we look forward to service you and guide you in the right direction.

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How UPC (Unified Patent Court) can help in redefining your patent monetization strategy?

UPC (Unified patent court) is a new system, which was agreed upon by EU member states almost seven years back, and is finally set to go into effect on 1st June 2023, following numerous delays. The new court will be responsible for resolving all disputes regarding the infringement and validity of new Unitary Patents, as well as similar disputes regarding European patents that have been opted out of the system. The UPC will have exclusive jurisdiction rights granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) for UPC countries.

 

The new system will assist companies across Europe in two key areas of concern, by allowing them to: 

  • Obtain a Unitary patent that covers the right of patent owner across all the EU member states 
  • Secure and enforce their patent rights through centralized litigation at the UPC if necessary

The process for securing patent protection and enforcing patent rights in the European Union will soon become simpler, opening up new patent portfolio monetization strategies that previously might have been beyond the reach of mid-size companies.

 

There are some major factors that one must consider while devising their patent monetization strategy:

Ease in applying for patents –

The ability to opt for a Unitary patent, which grants coverage for multiple European countries with one patent, as opposed to obtaining bundle of “classic patents through the traditional European patent system. This can be more appealing and will definitely reduce costs and administrative workload in comparison to validation and dealing with national patent offices in multiple countries.

 

Ease in enforcing the patent rights – 

The introduction of the UPC would provide an opportunity for companies, particularly small and medium-sized ones, who rely on patents to protect their intellectual property, to access the European market which might have been unattainable for them earlier due to the costs and complexity. The opportunity to litigate in multiple countries in a single action in the UPC will significantly reduce the complexity and length of the litigations and lead to a higher degree of compliance with patent rights.

 

Cost Effectiveness –

The Unitary Patent, which will have lower annual renewal costs than obtaining patents in individual countries, will be a more cost-effective option for companies seeking to validate their patent application in multiple countries. Additionally, with the Unitary Patent, there is no need to separately validate it in each country, avoiding the expenses of local patent office fees and the need to hire local attorneys. Another important benefit of a Unitary patent is that it needs only to be translated into one other EU official language after the grant whereas in the current European patents (non-unitary), translations are to be filed for the different states in different territories where the patent needs to be validated. 

Currently, enforcing patent rights in the EU requires separate legal action in each member state, which can be very costly for most companies. The UPC will provide an opportunity to litigate in multiple countries through a single action, which will greatly reduce the cost of multinational litigation. This will make it more appealing for companies to validate patents in additional countries, as there will be little to no incremental cost in including smaller countries in litigation cases.

 

Simplicity and Efficiency –

The cumbersome process of the need to validate and renew a granted patent on a country-by-country basis will be simplified with the introduction of the Unitary patent, which allows for a single renewal fee. This will reduce the administrative costs and expenses for the innovator, allowing them to focus more on R&D and strategy costs to monetize its patent.

The introduction of a Unitary patent allows for any litigation related to it to be handled by the UPC, a specialized court for patent disputes in Europe, which means that parties no longer need to navigate separate legal processes in different countries. Instead, they can use a single procedure in a common court and receive a single decision that applies to all countries where the Unitary patent is valid.

This creates a centralized, efficient, and cost-effective system for handling post-grant proceedings, such as infringement claims.

The UPC’s ability to quickly resolve cases will significantly decrease the cost of prolonged litigation and provide businesses with more certainty in a shorter period. This will also enable businesses to bring their cases to court more swiftly if necessary.

 

Primary language: English –

The Unitary patent system will primarily use English as its language, with all patents having an English version, making it easier for businesses in English-speaking countries such as the UK and US to participate in UPC hearings in their native language, eliminating the need for expensive translations. Additionally, once the system is in place, obtaining post-grant translations will no longer be required, simplifying the processes, and reducing costs.

Overall, the UPC has the potential to make the process of enforcing and monetizing patents more efficient and effective for patent holders, which could help to encourage innovation and the development of new technologies. Additionally, the UPC could help to reduce the risk of patent litigation by providing a more predictable and consistent legal framework for patent disputes. This could make it easier for companies to assess the potential risks and rewards of licensing or using patented technology, which could also contribute to the monetization of patents.

With the advent of UPC, we at Researchwire believe that all companies will be able to protect and monetize their patents more effectively. Our team at Researchwire can work with you on identifying your valuable patents and help them monetize by providing the evidence of use charts that will be crucial in supporting your arguments while enforcing your patent rights in a Unified patent court.

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Foodtech: Patents and Increasing Demand for Protein Rich Food Alternatives

 

The pandemic has raised interest levels around start-ups and ventures crafting alternative proteins or plant-based meat substitutes. Shifts in consumer behavior and growing awareness in alternative-protein sources (owing to health or environmental concerns) are emerging as key reasons for the growth of protein rich food alternatives market today. The food tech sector is growing rapidly and enterprises producing plant-based foods are increasingly leaning on technology, understanding its use in business and assessing its own strength vis-a-vis competition in the market. Popular Hollywood actors and business magnates have also advanced their support to this industry through private investments.

 

What are Alternative Protein solutions

Alternative food proteins are protein sources that are re-engineered from plants, and a variety of meat substitutes. They encompass everything from food products made from plants (nuts, grains, legumes), algae, fungus (mushrooms), insects and even cultured (lab-grown) meat. Fundamental to addressing food and nutrition security concerns, health issues and changing taste preferences, the world population is gradually shifting to sustainable diets that has low environmental impact and protects the biodiversity for our future generations.

 

Understanding Emerging Alternative Protein Technology in Food Tech Industry 

In the current times, Food tech sector can be distinguished from other industries as a blend of hospitality and agricultural sector that is deploying technology to develop novel ways to design, product, pack and distribute food products by using unique measures to expand their demand in the market. These innovative solutions include agriculture technology, consumer technology, delivery, supply chain solutions and several food-service technologies. This is done with the use of Patent data that can help bootstrap start-ups and growing businesses to determine market trends, identify opportunities and plan their future business growth strategy.

As this sector is growing, assessment of patent filing along with a focus on innovation for other alternative protein technologies becomes very crucial in business development. The protein rich food alternatives can be found in plant-based substitutes for animal products, insect proteins, precision and biomass fermentation, cell-based or lab-grown meat, and molecular farming.

 

Alternative protein food technology can aim to create ingredients that are added to foods

for freshness, preservation, nutritional value, flavour, texture, and appearance.

 

These additives can include salt, sugar, vinegar, spices, and baking soda to vitamins and minerals to more highly processed ingredients like fat replacers, and dough strengthening agent. Highly processed ingredients that didn’t exist earlier, have been used to create a different texture, flavour and experience that more closely replaces the animal meats. Plant based patties and soy are created to replace meat-based items and have been made to contain large percent of protein that are being used by consumers today.

Greater demand for vegan food products and allergen-free alternatives has led to the utilization of protein-rich foods like chickpeas, oats and fava beans by companies developing plant-based foods. Disruptive technologies such as high moisture extrusion, mechanical fractionation and upcycling are used to increase the sensory properties of plant-based food products.

 

In 2021, the Alternative Protein Market size exceeded USD 60.45 billion and is expected

to grow at an approximate CAGR of 18% between 2022 to 2029.

 

Researchwire can provide valuable data to food tech business firms on the key players in the market by assessing patent activity, including geographic differences and market penetration, along with identifying several technologies that have been used so far and highlight those that have saturated the market versus the new technology developments and still-emerging fields that remain ripe for growth and investment. This helps in competitive analysis and technology assessment for a business to grow and succeed.

 

Know more about Patent Trends 

Evidence suggests that the food industry has had the highest number of patents. The filing of patents related to lab-grown meat has rapidly increased since 2016. That indicates its progress and adoption globally.

Patent data is necessary to prepare the Food tech business strategy.

It focuses on the following issues related to food businesses and technology development:

* The relationship between patent activity and market trends

* The relative maturity of existing alternative protein technologies in the food market

* Patent filing activity across all technologies in the sector post 2000

* How to assess business opportunities and security risks and threats in the industry

* When to use patent searching in the innovation lifecycle of business

* The benefits of using patent landscape analysis and types of business intelligence software

 

Researchwire works closely with food tech enterprises to provide Insightful and effective solutions to address their technology roadmap planning and technology development challenges. They work closely to find alternative solutions from diverse domains through innovation supporting methodologies, creative tools and comprehensive and exhaustive search across technologies, industries, geographies and markets.

The company also works closely with IP licensing teams to provide customized patent mining & evaluation services and patent licensing support for patent portfolios of all sizes and diversity. Software analyses Patent data, R&D data, Market data, Product data sheets and Technology blogs to provide a complete picture of the technology development stage.

End to end research and technology analysis has led Researchwire achieve new peaks in this sector and aims to expand its footprint in the immediate horizon.

 

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The Role of Smart Charging in EV Adoption

A Global Purview of EV Smart Charging Developments

 

In a world where sustainability is taking center stage, transport as a leading source of emissions needs to be urgently overhauled. Aside from the dip in pollution rates during Covid-19, cars have produced approximately three billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in 2020, and this number has steadily risen over the past two decades, from 2.2 billion metric tons in 2000. Globally, the transport sector accounts for 21% of global emissions with road travel contributing three-quarters. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP has said, “Cleaning up the global vehicle fleet is a priority to meet global and local air quality and climate targets.”

Consequently, governments worldwide are encouraging increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) which produce much lower emissions than those that burn fossil fuels. It is estimated that 2 million electric vehicles (EVs) have been sold globally in the first quarter of 2022, a 75% increase over the previous year. As EVs become the universal choice, the current infrastructure will have to scale rapidly to support this.

McKinsey has estimated that as the number of EVs on the road increases in the US, the electricity needed to charge them would surge from 11 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) now to 230 billion kWh in 2030. To meet this demand, nearly 30 million chargers would have to be made available – some would be installed at residences, and 1.2 million would be public chargers. The cost of hardware, planning, and installation for this expansion of public charging infrastructure would come to more than $35 billion.

We move to Europe where joint research by Ernst & Young and the electricity industry trade association, Eurelectric, estimates that Europe will have 130 million electric vehicles on the road by 2035. Europe’s EV fleet is expected to expand from its current base of less than 5 million to 65 million by 2030 and then double over the following five years. EY estimates that Europe will need 65 million chargers to fuel these EVs, with 85% of plugs installed at homes.

But expanded infrastructure alone will not be able to support large-scale EV adoption. Governments and utility companies will have to find a way to manage the increased load on the grids. In a report by PNNL, the US Department of Energy found that existing electric grids will be able to handle 24 million EVs until the end of the decade – but new strategies need to be looked at after that. Along European highway corridors, EV fast charging on demand could increase peak loads by 90%, according to EY’s calculations.

This is where managed charging strategies make their play, to tackle the strain on infrastructure and huge cost outlays that will accompany the increased adoption of EVs. Of these, smart charging is the most effective in balancing the interests of all stakeholders.

 

 

What is smart charging?

A far cry from the EV charging devices that existed as far back as the 19th century which were large metal structures with cables and buttons, today’s smart charging technology is minimalistic, compact, and intuitive enough to make decisions on its own.

Smart EV charging or intelligent charging is a system where an electric vehicle and a charging device exchange data over a connection and the charging device does the same with a charging operator.

Smart EV charging manages grid loads and boosts cost-effectiveness by enabling a vehicle to communicate with the power grid, the utility company, and the charging point operator (CPO), through the internet, to choose charging strategies. These strategies trade off various parameters to enable power suppliers to meet the increased energy demand from the growing number of EVs.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, for example, some operators set rates three times as high as the usual between 5-8 pm on winter evenings, encouraging customers to plan their charging without overloading the grid

From the energy sources’ angle, smart charging technology can effectively integrate low-cost renewable energy into the grid. While these resources like water, solar, and wind have positive implications for sustainability, their dependence on the weather makes their availability volatile. To solve this impediment some smart charging solutions enable real-time responses such as balancing grids and adjusting the EV charging levels to maintain steady voltage and frequency.

In this way, smart charging cuts peak load, allows higher usage of renewable energy, and makes the charging process more optimal and economical without having to invest in expensive infrastructure upgrades or carbon-intensive, fossil-fuel power plants

 

The global push for smart charging

In tandem with the push for EV adoption, governments everywhere are also putting in place policies for the growth of smart charging. The UK leads the smart charging regulations race with measures that govern the use of EV chargers. In a bid to transition to zero-emission road transport and reduce emissions from conventional vehicles, in July 2019, the UK government announced that all government-funded home charge points would need to use smart technology to fulfill their commitment to the Road to Zero Strategy. Moreover, all new chargers sold from June 2022 are set to off-peak hours – 8 am and 11 am and 4 pm to 10 to avoid charging during peak hours. They have also installed over 100,000 home charge points.

To achieve a zero-carbon future and empower electric mobility the EU has adopted a series of initiatives. Two main regulations that aim at reducing CO2 emissions from transportation are the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 packages. The Fit for 55 Package includes the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) proposal which digitally connects all new publicly-accessible charging stations in Europe and has made them capable of smart charging.

But challenges remain, and various players are unearthing several unique, experimental, and inventive ideas to make smart charging more effective and rapidly scalable. The bidirectional” or “vehicle-to-grid” (V2G) charging feature charges EV batteries while simultaneously allowing the batteries to push power back to the grid enabling an EV to become a powerhouse. Many automakers are embracing bi-directional charging including Ford Motor Co. which partnered with solar power company Sunrun Inc. to use its F-150 Lightning pickup truck to power homes.

 

State-of-the-art developments in EV smart charging

Not surprisingly, the industry’s steep transformation curve has fetched it many laurels.

The LaneCharge project that kicked off in 2019 developed a new process for inductive charging in late 2021 with their engineering partner EDAG. In this patented technique, the charging intelligence is embedded in the car and not the road. The new technology allows the car to acquire the required charge based on independent, autonomous decisions, ensuring each car is optimally charged. In addition to being an advancement on earlier methods where all cars were charged as per the car with the lowest needs, this vehicle-wise optimization saves time and money across the ecosystem.

In June 2022, General Motors won a patent for an innovation that equips electric cars with two ports of different properties for bidirectional recharging, enhancing a vehicle’s adaptability. This feature will be extended across other vehicles as well, the company says.

Moving to fleet-level innovation, EO Charging, an EV charging company has filed for a Patent for a New Fleet Charging Technology. The new technology takes the ‘plug-and-charge’ system previously used expressly in DC charging stations and creates an integrated AC plug-and-charge solution for fleets. The technology permits the exchange of information between the vehicle and the AC charging units and brings significant benefits to fleet operators by reducing the inconvenience of large-scale fleet electrification and third-party telematics providers. It also paves the way for V2G charging in the future across both AC and DC solutions.

Along with them, UK-based Moixa, an energy technology company that manufactures smart solar batteries and GridShare software which was recently taken over by electrification firm Lunar Energy, was awarded the New International Patents for Smart Charging Fleets of Batteries.   The patents allow for aggregating and smart charging batteries in the US, EU, and Australia. An AI-enabled GridShare software aggregates fleets of batteries to provide ‘gigawatt-scale’, virtual power plants and helps balance electricity grids worldwide. They currently manage the largest single fleet of bi-directional batteries worldwide – 100MWh of batteries across 10,000 homes in Japan and have thus provided a blueprint for applying the technology to smart charge EVs. Moixa has already partnered with Honda to support the growth of EVs across Europe.

 

The future of EV charging is smart  

The infrastructure available currently for EV charging is inadequate, making the need for extensive and sustainable improvement imperative. With its spate of innovations that optimize infrastructure and energy use, smart charging technology might well be the critical component that will drive change at scale. Governments, industry bodies, and large corporations need to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible in this space for a carbon-negative future for all.

Our experts at Researchwire have a thorough knowledge of the rapidly evolving smart charging landscape and will be happy to discuss how our services ranging from landscape analysis to patent prosecution can support your forays in this area.

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The role of IP in India’s economic growth

India is bucking the downward trend of other global economies. Post-pandemic, the new normal facing countries include inflation and recession. Ripples from the war in Ukraine and the pressure to transition to clean energy have made the process of recovery much harder. 

 

Yet, India looks like a bright spot in a bleak setting. After surpassing the UK to emerge as the fifth-largest economy in the world, it is predicted to take the third spot beating Japan and Germany by 2027. According to Morgan Stanley, India’s GDP could more than double from $3.5 trillion today to surpass $7.5 trillion by 2031. Research by the US-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) says China and India may become the world’s top two economies by the year 2100.

 

What’s behind these predictions?  One of the main contributors to this stellar growth is the trade in services – specifically, digital technology that led to global offshoring, advancing the idea of India as the back office to the world. The old order of financial globalization based on international trade in goods that made the industrial world rich has peaked, plateaued, and ebbed. 

 

In its place is the trade in services.  In his research paper, the economist Richard Baldwin says these new services, ‘ Other Commercial Services’ (OCS), delivered electronically, are profoundly affected by digital technology. India’s IT outsourcing industry is a case in point. Trade in these kinds of services has flipped the old model of globalization on its head, setting India on its upward course. 

 

The Morgan Stanley report points out that during the two years of the pandemic, the number of people in the offshoring industry in India rose from  4.3 million to 5.1 million. Baldwin’s paper concurs that India’s share of global services trade rose 60 basis points to 4.3% and this is a trend that’s likely to advance. 

 

Knowledge-based industries are the foundation of India’s success story, which makes intellectual property (IP) protection of its knowledge assets vital. This requires a  modern, comprehensive IP ecosystem. Indian authorities have displayed an awareness of this and a willingness to act,  a few years down the line from when the country’s ITeS sector hit the headlines.

 

A look at India’s IP ecosystem

 

The World Intellectual Property Indicators 2019 Report recognized India as one of the top 10 nations in the ranking of the total (resident and abroad) intellectual property (IP) filing activity.

The journey began a little more than two decades ago.

In 1998, India became a member of the WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which provides a pathway to protect innovation in up to 148 countries. This move drove the growth of international patent applications from India from a mere 14 back then to more than 2000 in 2021.

The next policy driver was in 2005 when Indian laws became fully compliant with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This was a major boost to IP filing rates.

Successive governments have continued to improve India’s IP ecosystem to stay abreast of the growth in innovation in the country and across the globe. 2013 saw Indian Intellectual Property Office (IPO) which oversees patent use and awareness education in the country become an International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA) under the PCT, joining 20 other countries in fulfilling that role. To support these global forays and facilitate growth, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) that oversees patent use and awareness education in the country digitized its operations in 2015, setting up an electronic service delivery platform.

The platform provided secure, convenient access to end-to-end online services from the filing of patent applications to live status-tracking and boosted e-filing from 30% to 78%  of patent applications within months of deployment. 2014-15’s new framework also created a new ‘small entity’ category to incentivize MSME innovation.

2018’s National IPR Policy further strengthened mechanisms so that currently more than 4 in 10 Indian inventors file their patents in India compared to 20% earlier. In 2020-21, India also signed bilateral work plans with IPOs in Japan, Sweden, and the UK. Accession of India to Nice, Vienna, and Locarno agreements for. Across the board, these growth drivers have proved fruitful with the number of patent applications going up from 45,444 in 2016-17 to 66,440 in 2021-22. The patents granted in India have gone up from 9,847 to 30,074 during the same period.

 

Not tech alone: A sector-wise snapshot

Which are the sectors that are spearheading innovation? 

The technology sector remains a predictable star with emerging tech moving center stage here. But tech companies show a preference for filing patents abroad, specifically the US and the Indian authorities are addressing this

Over the past few years, startups have filed the highest number of patent applications in India, heralding the arrival of a new wave of innovation leaders. The authorities have noticed this and offer an 80% rebate on patent filings to startups recognized under the Startup India program.

In 2019-20, knowledge-driven fields like biochemistry, biomedical engineering, and biotechnology, in addition to computer science, electronics and communication filed 15-25% more applications y-on-y. 

These are green flags for innovation across diverse sectors and the last five years have seen a threefold growth in patents granted, pushing India’s ranking in the Global Innovation Index from 81 in 2015-16 to 46 in 2021.

 

Staying on course for the long term

Patents are not about innovation alone. As seen in the recent stalling of the UK-India FTA due to patent evergreening concerns, patents have a multi-dimensional, strategic impact. They protect the country’s know-how, attract FDI and facilitate foreign trade.

So to continue on the upward economic trajectory India is on today, a robust patent ecosystem that fosters innovation is a pivotal factor. But  India is still lagging behind innovation stalwarts such as the US, Japan, and even China. Hampered by the lack of a skilled workforce, patent applications in India can take up to 5 years for final office action, twice the time taken by leading economies.

Building awareness, encouraging companies and institutions to focus on R&D and bolstering the state-led IP mechanisms are all fronts that can be continuously tackled. The National Institute of Intellectual Property Management in Nagpur which is a part of the Indian IPO ecosystem conducts training programs for stakeholders. The IPO itself engages regularly with industry associations and academic institutions.

At Researchwire, we will be happy to share with you our in-depth knowledge of the Indian IP landscape and support your organization’s innovation journey in any possible manner.

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Additional data sources

https://www.entrepreneur.com/en-in/news-and-trends/indias-ip-ecosystem-and-its-influence-on-manufacturing/369806

https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2015/06/article_0008.html

https://www.wipo.int/ipstats/en/statistics/country_profile/profile.jsp?code=IN

https://pib.gov.in/Pressreleaseshare.aspx?PRID=1557418

https://www.ies.gov.in/pdfs/why-India-needs-to-urgently-invest-in-its-IPR-ecosystem-16th-Aug-2022.pdf

https://analyticsindiamag.com/problems-with-indias-intellectual-property-ecosystem/

https://www.ies.gov.in/pdfs/why-India-needs-to-urgently-invest-in-its-IPR-ecosystem-16th-Aug-2022.pdf

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/indian-companies-filed-138-lakh-tech-patents-during-2015-22/article65353291.ece

https://ipindia.gov.in/writereaddata/Portal/Images/pdf/IP_India_English_29.08.21_Final_.pdf 

 

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Vaccines: A Timeline of Innovation

Since human beings stopped being hunter-gatherers and settled into agricultural communities, disease has been mankind’s harshest enemy. To counter this, the search for inoculation-based cures where a small quantity or a less virulent form of a disease-causing germ is introduced into a person’s body to build immunity goes back centuries. Evidence of such treatments was available well before Edward Jenner used the theory to develop a smallpox vaccine in the 18th century. 

Currently,  the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that vaccines prevent an estimated 3.5-5 million deaths every year and are available for more than 20 life-threatening diseases. They combat the spread of pandemic diseases, such as flu and SARS, and are being formulated to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

As described by Dr. Princess Nothemba Simelela, Assistant Director-General, Special Advisor to the Director-General, Strategic Priorities, WHO, vaccinations are one of the greatest life-saving public health interventions in history.

 

Notable present-day innovations

An exciting development of the previous decade in the field of vaccines is the use of nanoparticles as carriers for vaccines. Nano carrier-based delivery systems offer increased protection against premature degradation, and good stability, and act as adjuvants to elicit an improved immune response. This makes the vaccine more resilient, allowing researchers to explore varied routes of administration.

Inorganic and polymeric nanoparticles, virus-like particles (VLPs), liposomes, Lipid Nanoparticles (e.g. SLN, LNP etc.) and self-assembled protein nanoparticles have all been tested as potential vaccine carriers. Gold, carbon, and silica nanoparticles have been successfully used to deliver viral antigens.

There are now more than ten covid-19 vaccines under development using miRNA and protein based nanoparticles platform which also uses liposomes/lipid nanoparticles for vaccine delivery, to tackle all past and future variants of the Sar-CoV-2 virus

 

The drivers of innovation

The history of vaccines has been one of innovation. The scientific community has had to race against an increasing number of pathogens that are evolving to destroy human lives. Pathogens already present amongst us frequently transform to evade our innate and external defenses. In addition, scientists estimate that more than 1.7 million unknown viruses exist in animals worldwide, and 38 to 50% of them could spread to humans. Phenomena such as climate change and rapid urbanization hasten this juggernaut.

Also, a vaccine needs to fulfill many other parameters to safeguard against disease effectively. A vaccine should be compatible with being manufactured at scale, transported across global supply chains, and available in variants that provide immunity against different forms of the pathogen and are safe for people belonging to different demographics. A vaccine safe for a healthy adult may not be so for a young child or an elderly individual.

This complex combination of factors that could make a difference between life and death has spurred the scientific community to continually innovate.

 

A brief history of vaccine development

It was towards the end of the 20th century that vaccinations had either eradicated or reduced mortality for a great number of diseases. Vaccine innovation and usage increased over the years and followed scientific and political-economic developments.

With modern scientific advancements, vaccines have become more sophisticated and scientists around the world are achieving breakthroughs far more often.

 

vaccine technology evolution:

 

The first generation

  •  Live attenuated vaccines (also called attenuated or weakened) are one of the oldest forms of vaccines. They contain weakened forms of the infectious agent that stimulate your immune system to develop immunity against that agent; live attenuated vaccines may be given by mouth or by injection into the muscle. An example is the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine
  •  Inactivated vaccines (also called killed) do not contain any living organism but rather a killed version of the pathogen that stimulates your immune system to develop immunity. It can be given only subcutaneously (under the skin), intramuscularly (into the muscle), intradermally (into layers beneath the skin), or intralesionally (into tissue directly). Polio and influenza vaccines are inactivated.

 

The second generation

–  Toxoid vaccines use toxins created by the pathogen to create immunity to the specific parts of the pathogen that causes the disease. These were introduced in the early 1900s and include vaccines for tetanus and diphtheria.

  • There are also subunit, recombinant, conjugate, and polysaccharide vaccines that use particular parts of the germ or virus. These were first used in the mid-19080s. They trigger very strong immune responses in the body, making it the perfect vaccine for people who should not receive “live” vaccines, such as young children, older people, and immunocompromised people. The hepatitis B vaccine is an example.

 

The third generation

Viral vector vaccines modify another harmless virus and use it as a vector to deliver instructions to protect us from the intended virus. Described as a gene delivery system they trigger a strong immune response. AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is an example.

  •   mRNAvaccines are ‘futuristic’ vaccines that can be developed quickly using the pathogen’s genetic code. They work by triggering an immune response from proteins they synthesize and induce both cellular and humoral immunity, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • DNA and recombinant vector vaccines – Recombinant DNA technology involves splicing together strands of DNA from different sources (such as bacteria or viruses) so that they produce proteins that can be used for testing purposes.  Although DNA-based vaccines have not yet been approved for use in the general public, several ongoing human clinical trials on DNA vaccines are underway. One of the first clinical trials investigated the possible therapeutic and prophylactic effects of a DNA vaccine against HIV.

 

The role of patents

Given the time, money, and effort that goes into making vaccines, patents ensure certain much-needed parameters are followed across the ecosystem – such as recognizing innovation and ensuring the high standards that are crucial for a life-saving product.

Patents also reward the patent owner which is often a large corporation with exclusive and substantial profits, at least in the initial years of vaccine manufacturing. And this has always been a subject of contention.

While patent supporters believe in limiting access to intellectual property to ensure innovations are cutting-edge and profitable, justice for the less fortunate is also an important argument. While profit provides the impetus to innovate and boost production, basic human rights should not have to play second fiddle, especially in health emergencies.

 

During the pandemic

As expected, this debate was pushed to the forefront during COVID-19 with some countries such as the US and India, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) arguing for the suspension of intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 vaccines, medicines, and technologies, and the EU countries and the pharma companies opposing it.

In the wake of COVID, several companies came together for ‘The Open Covid Pledge’, which hands out “non-exclusive and royalty-free” licenses for Covid products. They provide an open framework under which patent holders can voluntarily pledge not to assert the exclusivity of their rights to manufacture, use, sell, reproduce and import these products. 

A partial waiver of Covid-19 vaccine patents benefiting developing countries also came through in June 2022. But this might be too little, too late. Production of Covid-19 vaccines has increased dueto the demanding global markets.Also, manufacturing vaccines of the required quality needs much more than the lifting of patents. Technology transfer, advanced infrastructure, and the right supply chain are just some of the variables that need to fall into place.

Meanwhile,  two scientists Peter Hotez and Maria Elena Botazzi, co-directors of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, invented a safe, easy-to-make vaccine and kept it patent-free. India was quick to leverage its existing infrastructure to manufacture the jab known as Corbevax, and by August 2022, 70 million doses had been given to adolescents in the country.

 

What lies ahead?

Currently, there are several frameworks in place regulating patents and ownership rights.

The World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement is one such framework.  It obliges all WTO member states to offer 20 years of monopoly protection on new patented products. Although there is a group of 35 least developed WTO member states that are exempt, all the other countries have to play by these rules, making sure that if a patent holder has a patent for a country, that country cannot reverse engineer and try to develop a generic equivalent.

The two schools of thought around vaccine patents have been at odds almost since the beginning of mass vaccinations. Jonas Salk who led the team that developed one of the first polio vaccines famously said Could you patent the sun?. Salk believed the vaccine belonged to the people.

He was right as, in this instance, the public had funded the development process by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis which was itself a non-profit. So there was an almost universal consensus that the vaccine was already paid for.

Interestingly, towards the end of his illustrious career, Salk helped set up a corporation to develop an HIV vaccine. Though the outcome was unsuccessful, Salk’s company moved to patent the vaccine in the initial stages.

The hunt for an answer continues. Government funding, patent pools, domestic patent laws, cash rewards for new vaccines, transfer of technology from advanced countries, and global initiatives to foster innovation are just some ways to ensure vaccines reach the largest possible section of humanity while maintaining the highest possible scientific and regulatory standards.

 

Highlights about Researchwire’s Forte in this domain:

The pharma and life science team had worked on several projects in the past related to various aspects of vaccine innovation like vaccine formulation, vaccine compositions and vaccine development. The team had handled vaccine related projects for the aquatic animals, poultry, swine, and human use.

In the current context, the most important work done by the team was related to Lipid Nanoparticles and Liposome formulation for the drug delivery especially in the development of vaccine against Covid-19 virus. The work comprises exploration of various LNP and Liposome formulations, manufacturing technologies, finding various LNP/Liposome Based Therapeutics in Market, key ingredients of LNP/Liposomes, their suppliers and manufacturers, propriety manufacturing technology owners and their associations/alignments with pharma/biotech players. Amongst the various technologies’ aspect for vaccine innovation, the team also did perform in depth review of microfluidic device for the continuous production of lipid nanoparticles/ liposomes/ polymeric nanoparticles.

The other similar works (related to nanomaterials) are Liposomal Cisplatin and Platinum based drugs and Exosomes based Wound Dressing Materials.

 

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The Role of Carbon Neutrality and Carbon Credits in delivering a Liveable Planet

Bikram Raj Kumar, Co-Founder, ResearchWire Knowledge Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

On climate change, the time for talk is long gone. It’s time to Race to Zero by going Carbon Neutral now, as the lives of humankind as a species literally depends on it. The warnings are dire. Nature has been flashing the code red warning for humanity with extreme weather events for some time. Unless humans want to make living with apocalyptic fires, floods, cyclones and hurricanes their new normal, we ignore these signs at our own peril. The root cause of climate change, – expanding human population, biodiversity loss and pollution trace back to our unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.

The latest Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) data on climate action shows an alarming trend towards missing the goal of capping global temperature rise to the 1.5 °C threshold, as called for in the landmark Paris Accord of 2015. The SDG report released in July 2022, says our window to avert disaster is closing rapidly. It warns that GHG Emissions “will increase by nearly 14% over the next decade under current national commitments to climate action, whereas they need to be reduced by 43% by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5°C.”

Carbon Neutrality is now a must. As the human population surges to the staggering 8 billion mark, if we intend to preserve a liveable planet for future generations, global temperature increase needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (from 1850 to 1900).

Regardless of whether you are a country, city, business, other institution or individual, if you have a carbon footprint, you owe it to the planet that hosts you, to do everything in your power to compensate for the damage caused and join the Race to Zero. Pledging to get to Net Zero Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions and achieving that goal, is no longer optional. It’s not a choice that you have the luxury to postpone, ignore or forget. It is a Must Do that has to go on top of your To Do list.

 

What is Carbon Neutral? Why is it imperative?

Carbon Neutrality is that elusive target the world knows it has to accomplish for a clean planet, but has been struggling to reach. It is about creating a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks.

It is the same as Net Zero, which means cutting GHGs to as close to zero as possible with any remaining emissions

carbon

re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans, forests or the soil. GHGs are those deadly emissions released due to unsustainable human activity, leading to a rise in global temperatures and eventually to irreversible climate changes.

To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C, GHG emissions are targeted to be reduced by 45% by 2030 so as to reach Net Zero by 2050.

 

Zero Carbon = Climate Positive

The only thing better than erasing your carbon footprint and going carbon neutral is to become climate positive. Our holy grail of climate positive action would be to not produce any carbon emissions at all. Going beyond being zero carbon, one could create a carbon sink and go carbon negative by removing more carbon than we emit. We know this is possible because two countries, Burma and Suriname have already achieved this incredibly laudable feat. For the rest of the world to catch up, calls for a major overhaul, a complete transformation of how we produce, consume and move about.  This would imply huge declines in the use of coal, oil, and gas- hydrocarbons that the world is addicted to, and a transition to clean, sustainable renewable sources.

 

Carbon Credits: What are they? How do they work?

A ‘Carbon Credit’ is a permit that allows the entity that holds it to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. One credit permits the emission of a mass equal to one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).

In effect this is a capitalist solution to an environmental problem that has turned carbon into a priced commodity. When world leaders signed the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ in 1997, they agreed to follow a system of carbon trading, pledging to bring down their emissions by an average of 5% below the 1990 levels. This groundbreaking environmental treaty put a cap on emissions and decided that the countries that wanted to emit more needed to buy carbon credits from countries that emitted less. That’s  how the carbon market was created – a place where carbon credits began to be purchased and sold.

A National Registry in each country sets quotas on the emissions on polluting companies or other organisations which are approved and monitored by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In the United Kingdom, for instance, the Environmental Agency acts as the national administrator of the Registry and also distributes allowances to the market by auction. If the company emits less CO2 than the set limit they can sell the surplus Carbon Credits to another company who need them to cover their own emissions. If they emit more gases than their set limit they are fined. The receipts of these fines are then invested in projects that reduce pollution, such as planting forests which absorb CO2. Over time the set limits are reduced until the company achieves Net Zero, which means that they are removing as many emissions as they produce.

 

Types of Carbon Credits: Voluntary and Compliance

As the pressure to meet sustainability targets mount the world’s largest companies are turning to carbon credits to offset their environmental footprints, creating potential for a trillion dollar industry.

The carbon trading market is reported to be growing exponentially. The voluntary carbon market, driven by industries to achieve voluntary climate goals, has risen in prominence. According to the Ecosystem Marketplace, a US-based not-for-profit, the total value of transactions in the voluntary carbon market (VCM) hit $1 billion in 2021 for the first time in its history.

In the voluntary carbon market, which by their nature are global, carbon credits are most often created through agricultural or forestry practices, although a credit can be made by nearly any project that reduces, avoids, destroys or captures emissions. Individuals or companies looking to offset their own greenhouse gas emissions can buy those credits through a middleman or those directly capturing the carbon. In the case of a farmer that plants trees, for instance, the landowner gets money; the corporation pays to offset their emissions; and the middleman, if there is one, can earn a profit along the way.

 

‘Compliance market’ for carbon credits

In the compliance market, or involuntary market, governments set a cap on how many tons of emissions certain sectors- oil, transportation, energy or waste management can release.

As per regional regulations, if an oil company, for example, goes over the prescribed emissions limit, it must buy or use saved credits to stay under the emissions cap. If a company stays under that cap, it can save or sell those credits. This is known as a cap-and-trade market. The cap is the amount of GHGs a government will allow to be released into the atmosphere.

This system gives any company an incentive to reduce their emissions and also obtain additional income by selling their surplus credits. The Carbon Credits (known as Carbons) can be traded on the open market through banks, specialist traders or exchanges that list these products.

 

Carbon Credit market picks up in India

During the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow in 2021, India announced its five-fold strategy for fighting climate change. Commitments made included a reduction of one billion tonnes of carbon by 2030, reducing the carbon intensity of GDP by 45% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2070.

As India is the world’s largest exporter of carbon credits, the government is reportedly pushing for a uniform carbon trading market through policy changes and legislation aimed at implementing a carbon trading scheme that will subsume the present tradable certificates. The goal is to encourage a robust domestic market for clean certificates. India is also well placed to pioneer agriculture-related carbon credit trading. An Indian startup nurture.farm has already sold 20,000 carbon units from agricultural waste. Other companies, such as CropIn, are using artificial intelligence to digitise and inform decision-making on the farm. The carbon credit trade could help generate funds for green energy projects. To meet India’s net-zero carbon emissions target by 2070, and initiatives like eliminating stubble burning, equipping farmers with digital tools and other regenerative agricultural practices are paramount.

Success stories like EKI Energy Services– the Indore-based private company, in the business of carbon trading achieving a $1 billion valuation earlier this year are also grabbing the headlines. After being an active player in the arena for over a decade the company that boasts of major clients like The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Airports Authority of India, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, NTPC, Indian Railways, Indian Oil Corporation and ReNew Power came into its own in the last couple of years.

Other similar companies offering solutions for carbon management, from registration of projects to its verification and global accreditations are getting inspired and a host of related services are starting to evolve.

 

Concerns about Carbon Trading

While proponents hail the virtues of carbon trading as the bridge to a Net Zero future, critics dismiss it as “the right to pollute”. They say carbon trading worsens climate change as it is “used as a substitute for real climate action”.

Criminals have also successfully exploited loopholes in the carbon trading system to pull of massive scams, such as the 2008-09 case in Paris, when 36 people went on trial for swindling 1.6 billion Euros in a carbon quota market scam dubbed the “fraud of the century”. Soon after a similar story about VAT fraud related to carbon trading worth 5 billion Euros broke in the European Union, followed by another multi-billion Euro VAT fraud in Poland in 2016.

‘Greenwashing’, is a real concern too, as organisations quite often tend to respond to consumer demand for environmentally-friendly goods, services and policies by simply resorting to a form of marketing spin that deceptively puts a ‘green sheen’ on them as being sustainably sourced and produced.

Concerns are also expressed that wealthier nations would buy their way out of unsustainable practices placing a disproportionate burden on developing nations through the carbon offsets route. The fact is, the world’s top three emitters- China, the United States and the European Union, contribute 16 times the GHGs of the Bottom 100. The world cannot successfully fight climate change without significant action from the top 10 emitters.

 

Fixing the Risks

Undeniably, the world’s most vulnerable countries and population groups are disproportionately impacted by climate change. For any initiative aimed at saving the planet from its greatest threats to work, a robust policy framework, government oversight, checks and balances are essential. According to a study published by Trove Research and University College London, carbon credit prices are expected to rise exponentially as demand for carbon credits is expected to increase five-fold or even ten-fold over the next decade with companies seeking to deliver on their net-zero emissions pledges. Plugging the risks of fraud and manipulation are crucial to realising the full potential of putting a price on carbon to deliver a cleaner planet.

 

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TRIZ methodology

No matter how many analysis tools and data you have, your project might hit roadblocks. You might not be able to find a way forward. This is when it is imperative that you have to come up with creative solutions. One of the most popular ways to come out of a creative rut is to sit with stakeholders and brainstorm for solutions. The results from a brainstorming solution might not always be dependable as it depends on the knowledge of the stakeholders and a lot of what is usually referred to as “gut feeling.”

This is where TRIZ becomes a handy solution. 

 

What is the Triz methodology?

TRIZ, is a problem-solving methodology that depends on data, research, and logic. Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) takes previous data and the knowledge of many engineers to come up with creative solutions. TRIZ adds predictability, reliability, and repeatability to the problem-solving approach.

Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues developed TRIZ. It was not practiced outside the Soviet Union for several years. The first paper on TRIZ was published in 1956, and he expanded his work on it till the 1980s.  

It depends on the universal creativity principles for innovation. TRIZ codifies these principles to make the creative process more dependable and predictable. 

Samsung saved over $100 million by implementing TRIZ in some of its projects. It has become the bedrock of innovation at Samsung, and was introduced by Russian engineers they had hired in the early 2000s. Many of the world’s innovative companies such as Samsung, General Electric, LG, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Motorola, HP, Rolls-Royce, etc., have used TRIZ in design engineering, process management, and the development of products. 

 

Philosophy of TRIZ:

Modern TRIZ has reduced innovation to 39 ‘features’, 40 ‘inventive principles’, eight ‘trends’, and nine ‘boxes.’ The above method makes it possible to come up with solutions to any technical problem that can be investigated in a systematic manner. When they are applied to patents, they become even more watertight and make it difficult for competitors to find a workaround. 

 

  • To estimate creative problem resolution and product development
  • To create principles that are common for all fields of technology. 
  • To eliminate contradictions.
  • To use materials, energy, and knowledge effectively. 

 

TRIZ concepts:

There are two main concepts associated with TRIZ: Generalizing problems and solutions and Contradictions. 

 

Generalizing problems and solutions:

Based on research, TRIZ says that problems and solutions repeat themselves across industries. The problems are contradictions that can be resolved through creative solutions. TRIZ can be used to understand patterns of contradictions and solutions for developing new methods. 

 

Problem identification: Contradictions:

TRIZ identifies contradictions as one of the main issues relating to a problem. Eliminating them leads to solutions. There are two contradictions that exist in TRIZ. 

 

Technical contradictions:

They occur when you improve something and it leads to something else suffering from a negative effect. 

Example: A business improves the service and delivery to its customers and it results in more orders. Because of this, they are unable to handle the influx of new customers. 

This is a technical contradiction and it can be solved by using automated tools to offer customized services without having to employ more people. Automation can solve this problem with ease. The main technical contradictions are featured in the TRIZ Contradiction Matrix.

 

Physical contradictions:

They are usually inherent. A system or an object might have requirements that are contrary in nature, resulting in physical contradictions. 

Example: A full-suite program has a lot of features and functionality that it offers. But it is not easy for the end-users as they are overwhelmed with so many details. 

For an issue like this, the end-users can be offered documentation that helps them to navigate the program better. They can have demos, bite-sized videos, better workflows, or even a change in the UI/UX. Physical contradictions can be solved with the TRIZ Separation Principles

 

The 40 inventive principles of TRIZ: 

TRIZ’s database has a collection of user-compiled resources. This database has more than 40 principles and forms the basis for problem resolution. The principles include the following:

Segmentation, extraction, local quality, asymmetry, combination, universality, nesting, counterweight, prior counteraction, prior action, cushion in advance, equipotentiality, inversion, spheroidality, dynamicity, partial, overdone or excessive action, moving to a new dimension, mechanical vibration, periodic action, continuity of useful action, rushing through, convert harm into benefit, feedback, mediator, self-service, copying, inexpensive short life, replacement of a mechanical system, use pneumatic or hydraulic systems, flexible film or thin membranes, use of porous materials, changing the colour, homogeneity, rejecting and regenerating parts, transforming physical or chemical states, phase transition, thermal expansion, use strong oxidisers, inert environment and composite materials.

 

Let’s dive into the first three principles.

  • Segmentation- It divides the object into independent parts. It makes an object sectional for easy assembly or disassembly. It increases the degree of an object’s segmentation.
  • Extraction- It extracts the ‘disturbing’ part or property from an object. Only the necessary part of the property from an object is extracted. 
  • Local quality- Transition from homogenous to heterogeneous structure of an object or outside environment. 

 

76 standard solutions of TRIZ:

There are 76 standard solutions that were compiled by Genrich Altshuller between 1975 and 1985. The standard solutions are divided into five broad categories. 

  • 13 standard solutions are for “improving the system” with little or no change.
  • 23 standard solutions are for “improving the system” by changing the system.
  • 6 standard solutions are for “system transitions.”
  • 17 standard solutions are for “detection and measurement.”
  • 17 standard solutions are for “simplification and improvement.”

 

How to use TRIZ principles in solving business problems?

 

If you want to solve problems using the TRIZ methodology, here are the steps that you need to take:

 

  1.  Define your problem:

The first step to implementing TRIZ is to define the problem. Find out if the issue is a physical or technical contradiction. 

     2. Find the TRIZ generalized problem to match yours:

Match the generalized problem to match your issue. Since problems keep repeating themselves across various industries, it is possible to do this. 

    3. Find the generalized solution to solve the generalized problem:

The next step is to match the generalized problem to a generalized solution to see how it was resolved by the former. 

    4. Use the identified solution to resolve your problem:

Use the generalized problem and the particular generalized solution for it and adapt it in your issue to see if it is getting resolved. 

 

Examples of business problems solved using TRIZ:

  • The engineers of the Luna 16 lunar landers struggled for months to develop a lamp to illuminate the scene for a camera. After applying TRIZ, they realized that the vacuum environment did not require a lamp bulb there at all. 
  • Rolls-Royce patented brush seats in jet engines. GE applied TRIZ concepts and came up with a set of patents that rendered the original patent useless. The two companies came to a truce and agreed to mutual use. 
  • Taiwan saw an influx of Chinese tourists since 2008 which changed the tourist landscape of the place. They used TRIZ techniques to learn about the trajectory of their tourist industry. The results from the study were used by policymakers and businesses that were involved in catering to tourists. 

 

Benefits of TRIZ methodology: 

TRIZ encourages organizational problem solving and creative thinking that is useful for analyzing systems and operations, or even identifying and defining problems. It is applicable to every industry and in any environment for acceleration and innovation. That’s why companies such as Chrysler, ABB, Bosch, General Motors, Ford, Kraft, Motorola, Samsung, Eli Lilly, etc., use TRIZ. 

 

  1.  It is structured and systematic:

The most popular problem-solving methodology, aka brainstorming, is great at revealing everyone’s solutions, both good and bad. Everyone is trying to think outside the box. But the pertinent point with brainstorming is “what next?.” TRIZ is more than just problem-solving. It puts the solutions in a clear and structured manner. 

 

     2. It has a helpful community:

TRIZ has a global community called TRIZ Effects Database. It gives you answers to queries in the form of a list of Effects, that is, physical phenomena or applications of physical phenomena. Here are some of the free TRIZ resources that are available- Learning Centre and TRIZ Blog

 

     3. TRIZ works with other tools:

Organizations that use other problem-solving toolkits such as Lean, Agile, or Root Cause Analysis, can easily use TRIZ as a complementary toolkit. They can simply start using TRIZ’s tools and processes when other toolkits do not produce the expected results. 

 

     4. Increases innovation:

TRIZ is a rational, structured, and historically proven idea generation machine. In association with strategic thinking tools, it generates a set of data that changes the way organizations think and work. It helps companies generate solutions of high quality but in less time. TRIZ is also used extensively to improve the scope and strength of the intellectual property. 

 

Challenges in implementing TRIZ: 

The TRIZ methodology is great for finding quick and practical solutions, even if the problems are complex. One big disadvantage of TRIZ is its lack of formalization. It can lead to complexity at times. It is also reported that TRIZ doesn’t take into account the underlying organizational and cultural issues. 

Despite the above challenges, the benefits of TRIZ, far outweigh the negatives. Businesses that want to be competitive should incorporate TRIZ into their innovation strategy and processes. 

 

Researchwire helped a technology giant in improving the design of their wall mounted boilers. The goal was to decrease the exhaust gas temperature by blocking the thermal radiation and guiding the exhaust gas flow over the finned tube of the heat exchanger. Additional goal was to decrease the exhaust gas temperature by blocking the thermal radiation and guiding the exhaust gas flow over the finned tube of the heat exchanger.

Therefore, to move more exhaust gas over the heat exchanger and to maximize energy usage, several principles were investigated such as
• Duration of Action by Moving object (i.e. Exhaust Gas)
• Use of Energy by Stationary Object (i.e. Heat Exchanger)
• Loss of Energy (i.e. Effect of exhaust gas on heat exchanger)

Using the TRIZ principles, finally a new product was developed to solve the earlier issues in the product.

 

Wrapping up:

The innovative tools that TRIZ offers can help solve problems with the help of its problem-translation processes. It enables real problems to be translated into TRIZ general problems, and all you have to do is follow the steps outlined in it to find the solutions. What are your thoughts about implementing TRIZ techniques for your organization? 

Researchwire has the necessary technical know-how and wherewithal to implement TRIZ. We have successfully implemented TRIZ for several companies and helped them solve their bottlenecks, achieve new product development, and circumvent FTO issues. 

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Trends in OTT technology — How AI and ML are transforming content production and delivery

When Disney launched its streaming service in 2020, it attracted 10 million subscribers in the first 24 hours from just the US, Netherlands, and Canada. We are in the midst of a streaming revolution. Media analysts predict that there will be nearly two billion active subscriptions to on-demand video streaming services in 2025, indicating a 65% increase over the end of 2020. 

Cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) allow OTT players to generate insights from the tonnes of user data that is available to them. From helping them recommend the right content to each user to enabling them to produce original content in line with the expectations of different demographics, AI and ML are all set to revolutionize how we consume entertainment. 

The OTT market is expected to reach $194.20 by 2025. The primary engine for this growth will be traditional broadcasters who aim to compete with online video streaming giants such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, etc.  

 

Let’s see how AI/ML are transforming content production and delivery:

       1. Content Production:

The 20th Century Fox collaborated with IBM to make the world’s first “cognitive movie trailer” for Morgan, a horror movie. It entailed training an AI that uses fantastic scenes from other horror movies and trailers to create a trailer that will pique the interest of horror aficionados. 

From IBM: “There are patterns and types of emotions in horror movies that resonate differently with each viewer, and the intricacies and interrelation of these are what an AI system would have to identify and understand in order to create a compelling movie trailer. Our team was faced with the challenge of not only teaching a system to understand, “what is scary”, but then to create a trailer that would be considered “frightening and suspenseful” by a majority of viewers.”

The AI (coupled with the help of human editors) managed to do this in 24 hours. Creating a movie trailer without the assistance of AI takes anywhere from ten to thirty days. AI keeps getting better with time as it learns and adapts. AI can create new videos from content repositories, in real-time. They can even perfectly optimize it for release on different OTT platforms. 

 

       2. Provides a hyper-personal approach:

One of the biggest advantages of AI/ML technology in the industry is its capacity to push content specific to the interests of the consumer. If you display content to people based on their interests, they are more likely to watch it. It will drive content consumption. AI can be leveraged to determine the preferences of customers. The content they enjoy, the ones they skip, the genres that they spend more time on, movie durations that they prefer, etc. When OTT platforms use this information to drive content recommendations, it will result in hyper-personalized content and increases their happiness. 

 

       3. Acts as a retention tool:

There are hundreds of OTT platforms. Gaining the attention of consumers and keeping it that way takes a lot of effort. OTT subscriber churn rate in the US is as high as 44%. You need to be constantly pushing the right buttons to keep them interested in what you offer. If only platforms could seamlessly understand the requirements of a customer and recommend content based on each individual’s unique interests, isn’t it? Thankfully, AI has the capability to do just that. 

What do you think an AI system is powered by? Data. The AI system learns from previous customer data and trains itself to understand patterns and predict customer behavior. It suggests content that is relevant to the users and their specific requirements. 

You cannot send recommendations based on a single attribute alone. A 30-something female OTT customer from South Korea with a master’s degree who lives in Paris, France, might have a completely different movie taste from someone who shares the same attributes. 

AI studies the specific customer’s behavioral and real-time data to create highly personalized recommendations. The insights that an AI engine provides help OTT platforms offer a terrific experience. 

 

       4. High-quality viewing across multiple media formats:

Interactive video-based digital content has a lot of takers because of the immersive experience that it offers. OTT platforms have already managed to offer seamless digital entertainment across multiple media formats. Some of the bigger OTT players leverage the seamless interconnectivity that allows them to watch content on screens that offer 4k and 8k resolution. With a boom in the sales of smart TVs, features such as ultra-high resolution, better picture quality, and an immersive experience will become a must-have. 

Technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality will create more opportunities for providing an immersive and experiential experience. 

 

       5. Content protection by blockchain:

Blockchain can help content creators and distributors in storing, classifying, copyrighting, and distributing digital content. The immutable public ledger will allow OTT platforms to create effective policies to restrict content from unauthorized users. It will reduce instances of piracy and protect against copyright infringements. 

 

       6. Short-form videos:

Bite-sized video content improves engagement by a huge factor. AI/ML engines can create highlights, teasers, recaps, key moments, and trailers to show the viewers what they can expect when they decide to watch a movie or show. This saves a lot of time for the consumers as they don’t have to sit through the content to understand if it will be of interest to them. 

 

       7. Video playback:

Data and speed requirements have significantly increased recently, especially with 4K video resolution coming into play. If the bandwidth is restricted, it can result in throttling, which creates a video buffering problem. AI technology can adjust the video quality based on the available network quality, without affecting the experience of the user. 

It can even gauge the user’s favorite video quality and use that resolution whenever they are watching a video. By adapting content and services based on the data range available, AI and ML can provide richer and more engaging experiences for their audience. 

 

      8. Blending OTT platforms:

AI is disrupting the OTT ecosystem by blending the platforms. We will see platforms merging applications and functionalities. For example, YouTube is not just a video-watching platform, it can also be used as a messaging board, social network, video editor, and so on. In the immediate future, OTT platforms can also be used to engage fans. You will see video platforms that come with eCommerce integrations that allow you to make direct purchases. Live commerce combines entertainment with the ability to purchase items. It provides businesses, marketers, and OTT platforms an opportunity to generate revenue. 

Combining the user base of social media platforms, content development, and streaming capabilities of OTT platforms can completely change the game. 

 

How does Netflix use Machine Learning to its advantage?

Netflix is one of the most popular OTT platforms in the world. Let’s see how they use machine learning to provide their end-to-end video streaming solutions. ML helps Netflix design advanced prototypes, evaluate algorithms, improvise models, and experiment incessantly to come up with new ways to provide better service. 

  1. Netflix thumbnails:

The video streaming platform creates attractive graphics that are automatically generated by the ML process. It is created based on viewer choices. Based on the vast data of the shows or videos that you have watched on the platform, the ML system unifies the images. 

      2. Their homepage: 

One of the brilliant use cases of ML on OTT platforms is Netflix’s homepage. As soon as you enter, you will find it filled with shows or movies that you are watching currently and recommendations that match closest to your viewing patterns. 

      3. Its recommendation system:

Users get personalized suggestions on the platform, through the ML engine. Reports say that its recommendation system saves them more than $1 billion a year.  

      4. Content delivery: 

Netflix does pioneering work in content delivery. It has patents for technology that improves how content is delivered to viewers, decreasing data loss while improving stream quality, and reducing buffering. 

      5. Choosing the location:

More than being just a streaming platform, Netflix is a production company. They produced 2,769 hours of original content in 2019, 80% more than that of 2018. The location at which the movies or shows are shot is important because it directly affects the bottom line too. Netflix uses machine learning algorithms to determine the perfect shooting location for a particular show or movie. 

The machine learning algorithms check the cost, schedule of the cast and crew, location shooting requirements, probability of getting shooting permits, weather, and other relevant factors. Their ML systems quickly finds shooting locations that are the most optimal and feasible. 

 

Wrapping up:

Consumption of entertainment through traditional media has reduced drastically, and there has been a huge shift to consuming content on OTT platforms. They provide an eclectic set of shows and movies and the accessibility to watch them from anywhere. It has also made entertainment consumption an immersive and engaging experience. 

OTT platforms are fighting for improving their technological capabilities as much as for content. If one platform offers a better experience than the other, consumers wouldn’t hesitate to switch. The future holds exciting prospects for AI and ML in the OTT landscape. 

If you are in the OTT space and are looking to take care of your inventions, Researchwire will be able to help you in the right direction. Get in touch with us and see the kind of difference we can make for your intellectual property. 

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Why should you integrate AI into your competitive intelligence program?

The speed at which disruption is happening in every industry can get overwhelming if you aren’t actively contributing to this change. According to research by Accenture, only 63% of companies are experiencing any sort of disruption in how they operate, engage, or bring value to their customers. Only 3% of publicly listed companies have made serious progress in transforming their organizations. There is a huge gap.

This gap can be bridged by having a competitive intelligence program in place. 

 

What is competitive analysis?

The practice of gathering and analyzing competitive information to identify market opportunities, threats, and risks is called competitive analysis. Every business has to indulge in it as it helps you compete with the best in the industry. You will also be able to make data-driven decisions that will put your brand in a better position in the market. 

While competitive intelligence programs have been common for quite some time, the entry of artificial intelligence (AI) in it has completely changed the way how it is done. 

From improving customer service or operations with RPA (Robotic process automation) bots to predicting performance, AI is shaping the way how businesses operate. To say that it is changing the world would not be an overwhelming statement. In gathering competitor intelligence, too, AI has carved a niche for itself.

In this article, we are going to look at the benefits of integrating AI into your business’ competitor intelligence program. 

 

Why is competitive analysis critical? 

Competitive intelligence helps leaders make data-backed business decisions. It could entail anything from monitoring competitors’ products, marketing techniques, supply chain, market, operations strategy, patent strategy, etc. By doing so consistently, you will gain a competitive advantage and be in a position to stay ahead of your competitors. 

When you are actively indulging in AI-powered competitive intelligence programs, you will rarely get surprised by the market or your competitors. Bloomberg says-” Competitive intelligence is your best alarm clock,” as it makes you take action when presented with a threat or opportunity. 

 

Why is AI important to your competitive intelligence program? 

 

  • Helps gather relevant sources:

Gathering information about your competitors is an arduous task. Doing it manually can take off hundreds of thousands of person-hours that can be used elsewhere. Artificial Intelligence helps collate information from thousands of sources. It even identifies real-time updates and changes that the competitor is doing on several channels, including social media, external tracking, website tracking, forums, etc. 

 

 

  • Anticipate competitor’s actions:

With the help of AI-powered competitive intelligence, it may even be possible to predict competitors’ next steps, assuming that there are tonnes of data to analyze. Even otherwise, when you know what your competitors are about to do, you will be in a great position to counter any attack that may come from their side. 

You need to react quickly to how the market behaves if you want to stay ahead of the competition. It is imperative that you find out as much as possible about all your main competitors so that you are never blindsided. 

 

 

  • Visualizes trends for decision making:

The ability to visualize trends based on the data collected is an essential part of decision-making. AI pulls out trends and visualizes data from multiple sources to help businesses see what is happening, at a never before seen scale and speed. Thanks to advanced levels of visualization that include the ability to filter, you can make the data actionable and see how it impacts your business. 

 

 

  • Understand the market:

Competitive intelligence programs help spark great new ideas and allow for different perspectives to form. It will help your business see how your competitors are positioning themselves in the market, and find out if there are any market gaps that they have not taken advantage of. 61% of leaders believe that artificial intelligence helps significantly in fleshing out opportunities for their business. 

Artificial intelligence can act as a surveillant for multiple sources (even thousands) so that you don’t miss out on any updates about your industry or how your brand is perceived by those who are your prospective clients. From monitoring website content to thought leadership trends, it can keep a tab on everything. It even manages to save thousands of person-hours by doing all of this in an automated manner. All information that is relevant to your business will be kept track of. 

 

 

  • Discover marketing gaps:

You might have the best product in the market, but if your marketing game is not strong, your customers won’t know about it. Most businesses cannot attract the right kind of clientele because they have not been able to put themselves out in the right way. 

 

 

  • Reduction of repetition:

Repetitive tasks can be mind-numbingly tedious for human beings, even resulting in mistakes that can cost the company. On the other hand, machine learning gathers intelligence by drawing inferences from patterns of activity. 

 

 

  • Does better research:

One of the most challenging tasks associated with competitor intelligence is research. 

  • What is the data that you want to analyze? 
  • Which are the different pieces of information that you want to collect? 
  • What are the sources from where data will be collected? 

 

Artificial intelligence makes all of this incredibly easy. You can analyze every single detail of your competitors at scale and in a significantly less period. The AI system will also make sure that the data collected is organized in a visually appealing manner that makes it easy to find patterns from it. 

The AI crawlers that scrape the data can be as extensive as possible, and it is not even limited by geography. You can be assured of the fact that you are not missing out on any business use case. 

 

Disadvantages of using AI for competitive intelligence programs:

Let us look at some of the cons of using AI for CI and how it can take the charm out of it if you don’t take the right steps. 

 

  • Lack of context:

AI might be able to find unexpected patterns, but it cannot tell you clearly why it occurred in the first place. You might feed a select set of data, but how the AI works and what it finds ‘related’ is not transparent. The business should put more effort in finding the context for certain insights. 

 

 

  • False positives:

How does your AI algorithm find relevant data points? The algorithm might not have included important aspects that are important for your business or there might be coding oversights, and this will give false-positive results. You have to be on top of the data to ensure that the algorithm is doing what exactly it intends to do. 

 

 

  • Obsolete AI:

There is so much innovation in artificial intelligence that the results you are getting currently might be terribly limited. Be on the lookout for the latest innovations to get what you want. 

 

Popular AI use cases in competitive intelligence:

From identifying patterns in data to predicting future outcomes, artificial intelligence can make a world of difference in your competitive intelligence plan. It can even be programmed to gather information from disparate sources to analyze the data together. 

AI has the ability to quickly identify opportunities in your industry. It is already being implemented across industries to predict the future by discovering trends or data patterns that might be missed by humans. News tracking, AI-enabled content recommendation, opportunity tracking, social media monitoring, auto-tagging, customer preference analysis, comparison with competitors across different categories, detailed data breakdown etc., are some of the use cases of AI in competitive intelligence programs. 

 

Wrapping up:

Given the tonnes of competitor data that is available publicly, it would be unwise not to spend effort on collecting insights from them. Businesses will be doing themselves a disservice if they don’t invest in competitive intelligence programs to see what they can do to their existing IP strategy. Adding artificial intelligence into the fray increases the effectiveness of your competitor analysis. 

If you are looking for end-to-end intellectual property services and AI-powered competitor analysis, get in touch with the Researchwire team. Let us walk you through how exactly we can help you with gaining relevant insights for your business using competitive intelligence programs. 

 

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