06 January 2022

IP trends for 2022: Innovation in technology

Our team of patent, trade mark and design attorneys have considered the legal landscape, recent technical developments and inventions, as well as the marketplace, to predict the likely trends that businesses should look out for in the next 12 months.

To kick off our ‘IP trends for 2022’ series, we will be marking National Technology Day (today, 6 January) by looking at emerging trends in the technology space, covering deep tech, blockchain and cleantech. Mathys & Squire is delighted to support researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs in identifying and protecting the intellectual property in their technological inventions. On National Technology Day, it is important to not only spotlight existing innovations that have impacted the world we live in and celebrate their inventors, but also to look to the future and how further developments in technology will shape its course. 

Snippet versions of the three articles, written by Partner Andrew White and Associates Dylan Morgan and Oliver Parish, can be found below, with extended versions of each article available throughout January.

Deep tech and ‘Biology 2.0’

Looking to the year ahead, the term you should become familiar with is ‘Biology 2.0’ – where biology and technology unite in deep tech companies. As summarised by Eroom’s law, advances in biology, such as drug discovery, are becoming slower and more expensive over time, despite improvements in technology. Now, 20 years since the human genome project, things finally look set to change.

Due to advances in engineering and computer science, and in particular AI, we are now starting to see fundamental changes to the way in which problems in biology are addressed, making use of these advances in AI technologies. This has been referred to by some in the field as ‘Biology 2.0’ – where engineering and computer science principles are applied to biological problems.

It is clear that there are numerous opportunities to explore within ‘Biology 2.0’ and we are excited to already be working with many innovators in this field. Of course, as with many deep tech companies, those involved in ‘Biology 2.0’ are very IP-rich, however, they often need significant capital investment before they can begin generating revenue. This requires a different model and mindset from investors and those involved in the field, as well as an effective IP strategy to match that can be used to monetise the IP assets.

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Blockchain and non-fungible tokens

An increasing number of patent applications for blockchain related inventions have been filed around the world. Despite the large number of patent filings, there is still a dearth of blockchain-specific case law and some lack of clarity over exactly what is patentable, and to what degree.

Patent applications of course go hand in hand with developments in technology and in commercial focus. In this regard, we expect that a particular area of interest in the coming year will be non-fungible tokens, which have moved into the spotlight in the past year.

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Cleantech and renewable energy

During the COP26 summit held in October – November 2021, hundreds of governments, cities and businesses signed a declaration to work towards making all new vehicles release zero emissions by 2040 at the latest. In 2022, we can therefore expect to see a focus on innovation in battery technology, particularly energy storage solutions and fast charging inventions, to make electric vehicles (EVs) practical and affordable for all consumers.

During the climate change conference, there was also a renewed emphasis on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With power generation making up a significant proportion of total greenhouse gas emissions, we can expect to see further inventions and innovative developments in renewable energy technologies in 2022.

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