It is not exactly news that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (AR/VR) are poised to become a big IP/Patent litigation battleground. Driven by the biggest technology companies in the world, accelerated by the pandemic and remote work-life, and boosted by growing commercial adoption, it has become a massive catalyst for advances across the tech world. Graphic and Application Processors, Lensing and Optics, holographic displays, WLAN/5G, and even battery technologies are all being pushed toward new and advanced frontiers by the aggressive demands of the VR/AR product segments.
Advanced algorithms for features such as gesture/facial/object recognition, tracking, and control, frame processing and display, 3D holograms, and many more are developed and enhanced constantly. Furthermore, many of these efforts rely on and utilize Machine/Deep Learning, Computer Vision, and Artificial Intelligence –three of today’s most trendy tech terms, as well as three of the most in-demand sectors for engineering professionals. And that is just the tip of a giant iceberg, a surge of innovation, which also translates to a parabolic rise in patents petitioned/granted and IPs to protect.
In Q3 of 2020, about 2300 patents related to AR/VR were issued worldwide. In Q4, that number nearly tripled, with more than 6700 such patents issued. While the US and China have naturally been the top two issuers of VR/AR patents, it is worth noting that in that same quarter China surpassed the US as the top issuer by volume. In terms of individual assignees, Magicleap took the top spot in Q4, but more significantly, Microsoft, Alphabet, Google, Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Sony and Huawei make up the rest of the top ten.
In other words:
The world’s largest technology companies are nearly all heavily invested in AR/VR, both in relevant product development, and consequently in patent/IP assignments.
The world’s top two superpowers are also heavily invested, vying for the lead in overall patent issuance. This is occurring while they are already in an escalating technological feud revolving around general IP protection and theft concerns.
It should be clear by now that It is not a question of if the VR/AR industry will give rise to the next big IP/Patent litigation battleground. That reality is already here. VR/AR technology is getting more and more prominent. and litigations are already happening. But those are merely skirmishes. The only question, therefore, is when the big battles might start.
The answer to that, naturally, is whenever VR/AR products become mainstream consumer items, making true on their incredible Total Addressable Market (TAM) promise. For reference, Microsoft secured a 10-year deal with the US army for its Hololens worth as much as $22B, and that is essentially just a niche market! With the wide range of possible usage cases for AR/VR across personal, enterprise, retail, industrial, and even automotive markets, the AR/VR TAM could be orders of magnitudes greater.
When that much money is on the line, the big battles will begin. And with the powerful geo-political rivalry behind the scenes, the stakes will likely be as high as they’ve ever been. As such, the importance of relevant technical experts across all affected technical fronts covered by the AR/VR umbrella cannot be understated, and GRT Firm team of experts is positioned accordingly. We are engaging, learning, and preparing to be ready and provide, when the time comes, a support that is second to none.