The Consumer Technology Association is holding their annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) next week in Las Vegas from January 9th – 12th. While the media is captivated with reports of self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, augmented reality headsets and smart appliances, CES is also a highly anticipated event for intellectual property (IP) law.
Matthew Burr at RWR Legal works in IP law and with start-ups, where he fuses his interest in technology and science to advise innovators, entrepreneurs and start-up companies. The world of law can be a complicated place when it comes to intellectual property and technology, especially without proper guidance.
“The advent of powerful home computers in the 80s and 90s created a crisis in intellectual property law. All the microelectronics are tangible inventions, but the software you programmed a machine with was hard to categorize,” says Burr. “Is it an invention, copyright, or a trade secret?”
Some early technology patents stretched the definition of innovation (see US 544036 “Method for exercising a cat”), but in the recent years, the law has begun to sort itself out. Burr says we’ve reached a point where merely doing something with technology doesn’t mean it can be patented.
“Just writing a phone app doesn’t make it patentable. It has to do something extraordinary.”
Some of the new technologies that interest Burr are those that have come to prominence in the past two years, particularly virtual reality (VR) and biomedical advancements. These developments have implications for CES 2018 and beyond.
“Virtual and augmented reality headsets have been surprising to me, in the last two years especially. Google, Microsoft and Facebook have gotten in the VR headset game, and I’m very curious to see how successful that will be. A lot of resources are being poured into consumer versions of VR,” says Burr. “Biomedical technology is another one I keep my eye on, and there have been jaw dropping advances in the last 18 months, especially gene editing technology, like CRISPR.”
As technology advances and becomes more complicated, the law surrounding it will almost certainly become more complicated as well. Lawyers like Matt Burr, and the team at RWR Legal, are ready to expertly guide tech companies on IP law.