European Patent Office: Sharp increase in SDV Patent Applications

10.12.2018

New report issued by the European patent office in cooperation with the European Council for Automotive R&D (EUCAR) shows a sharp increase in self-driving vehicles (SDV) related patent applications. The steep increase is being identified by experts as the verge of a “transportation revolution” that would potentially change everything we know about driving in the very near future.

We all know self-driving vehicles in various shapes and forms from science fiction movies. After the EPO’s recent report demonstrated an incredible increase of 330% in SDV patent applications (compared to 16% increase in other technologies) in the past few years, the future of driving is closer than ever. The new generation of transportation will no longer include “human driving”, and will be largely based on automated vehicles with little to no human interference.

Although many SDV technologies have already reached end users (such as lane keeping systems, rain sensors and automated breaks systems), there is still much more to come.  The fast pace of breaking through SDV technology led experts to believe that almost all vehicles will be fully automated in the very near future in possibly in the very next decade. This keeps the auto industry in a constant race for innovation: the industry invests enormous resources towards SDV R&D centers worldwide. Tech giants outside the auto industry are also looking for ways to penetrate the market. The biggest investment made in SDV technology so far is the recent intel transaction, acquiring the Israeli SDV company ‘Mobileye’ for an astounding amount of USD 15.3 billion. Although Israel does not have any local car manufacturers, is it considered to be an SDV leader with more than 500 SDV startups and funds.

The report examined applications in two main technology sectors: (1) Automated vehicle platform which includes technologies embedded within the vehicle itself; and (2) Smart environment, which includes technologies that enable self-driving vehicles to interact with each other or with their surroundings. The reports show that Europe and the US both have a strong lead in SDV innovation with the highest number of patent application. Another interesting finding in the report is that in comparison to other technologies, applicants in the SDV field tend to apply for “patent families”, rather than single applications. SDV Applicants also tend to seek regional or international protection, applying to a larger number of jurisdictions on average.

Ehrlich Group has vast experienced in successfully handling applications in the field of SDV and we take this opportunity to offer companies in this field our services.

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