Intellectual Property Attorney

Internet of Things (IoT) and Emerging Intellectual Property Issues

The Internet of Things has already changed the way you live: whether you realize it or not. Everything from the cars we drive to the vegetables we buy at our local store are increasingly integrated into a broad new class of technologies collectively known as the Internet of Things. A hard-to-define-term, the Internet of Things can be broadly classified as group devices which are able to share data with other devices in order to make automated decisions or to provide customers with more accurate information. In essence, the Internet of Things is a collective term encompassing all the devices, sensors, and systems that can be connected to the internet.

Tractor trailers can connect through the Internet of Things; using GPS sensors to track shipments and reduce fuel costs.
Farmers use sensor systems to better plan irrigation and harvesting. Smart thermostats optimize heating and cooling costs by adjusting the temperature when the occupants leave the home. The Internet of Things is everywhere, and successful intellectual property planning requires professionals who are versed in these emerging areas of technology.

According to a study by the International Data Corporation, the global Internet of Things market is currently valued at around $1.9 trillion dollars, with that figure projected to grow to $7.1 trillion dollars by 2020. For comparison, in 2020 the entire U.S. GDP is
projected to be about $17.5 trillion dollars. This growth shows no signs of slowing down, as there can be many beneficial impacts for both businesses and customers. In fact,
a recent report by Verizon predicts that by 2025, organizations that extensively use Internet of Things technologies will be up to 10% more profitable.

But with all the advances, efficiencies, and savings that the Internet of Things is bringing, there are many challenges—including important legal challenges—that companies and consumers will face.

Imagine a world in which everything is connected, and many of the routine, daily tasks of industry become fully automated by Internet of Things technologies. Imagine a factory run totally by automation, or a car that drives you to work while you catch a few more minutes of sleep. Imagine a store that orders its own inventory, or a baby camera system that provides an automatic safety-watch over your child.

Now imagine what happens when these systems go dark after an accident or, heaven forbid, a deliberate attack.

The more important the Internet of Things becomes to our companies and our homes, the more susceptible we become to its failures. In a world of increasing volatility, dependence on interconnected devices opens new worlds of legal liability as well as new challenges regarding securing proper intellectual property protection.

Who should be held liable when a truck operated via the Internet of Things misses a shipment because of a software bug? Who could you sue when your Internet of Things thermostat malfunctions, causing your pipes to burst in winter? How can businesses effectively monetize the lucrative data generated by the Internet of Things while respecting customer privacy rights?

Needless to say, these and other legal questions will continue arising as global connectivity increases. As that happens, Grimes LLC will continue providing timely public insights along with world-class client counselling.

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