Published On: August 26th, 2021Categories: IP Management, IP Strategy, Patent Applications, Patents

In these unprecedented times, company survival has rested largely with how well they have responded to the forced work-from-home conditions, which required agility to adapt to digital transformations and increased IT budgets. Gartner predicts that worldwide public cloud spending will increase by 18% in 2021. The ultimate beneficiaries of the increased IT budgets are service providers who enable computing and data storage in the cloud.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud are each set to generate revenues in the billions in 2021. The three cloud giants already command a combined market share of over 50%. However, the competition is catching up, with more players providing diverse offerings such as hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, serverless computing, managed services, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, IoT, and edge computing capabilities.

Challenges for Patent Departments at Cloud Computing Companies

  1. Explosion in Patent Filings
    One of the common challenges faced by both large and small companies focusing on cloud computing technologies is the rapid increase in patent filings and the evolving competitive landscape.

    *incomplete data

    Patent Filing Trends and Top Patent Owners in Cloud Computing: A quick inspection of the patent data reveals the rapid growth for new inventions related to cloud computing technologies (5y growth rate of 24%). The top 5 patent owners in the United States are listed above. Other players outside the top 5 include the likes of Cisco (6th), Google (7th), SAP (8th), Amazon (9th), AT&T (10th), Huawei (11th), Salesforce (12th), Samsung (13th), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (14th), Sony (15th), Verizon (16th), Citrix Systems (17th), Broadcom (18th), Ericsson (19th) and Nokia (20th).

    Patent Title Assignee
    US20210218643A1 Orchestration Engine Blueprint Aspects for Hybrid Cloud Composition International Business Machines
    US20210218809A1 Dynamic Routing of File System Objects Microsoft Technology Licensing
    US20210218807A1 Real-Time Replication of Object Storage in Cloud Storage EMC IP Holding
    US20210218646A1 Methods, Systems, and Computer Readable Media for Request-Response Processing Oracle
    US20210194828A1 Architecture for Smart Switch Centered Next-Generation Cloud Infrastructure Intel

    Recent US Applications in Cloud Computing: About 30% of the shortlisted documents are pending applications revealing continuing investments by the patent filers. Some of the recent applications from the top patent filers are listed above.

    Creating a diversified cloud patent portfolio and business alignment remains a top priority for patent departments. Attorneys also need to be aware of unknown art that could potentially impact their ability to exclude and secure freedom to operate.

  2. High Number of Patent Disputes
    Patent disputes in the technology industry (or high-tech) are fairly common and contribute to over 65% of all patent infringement suits filed in District courts in the last 10 years. Although the number of cases has come down in recent times, the numbers are still fairly high (>1000).

    *incomplete data

    Patent Disputes in US District Court: A quick inspection of the cases filed between 2011-2021 citing US patents related to cloud technologies.

    Cloud systems often involve multiple components and parties, possibly located in different parts of the world. The relatively broad nature of the patents related to cloud technologies and rapid innovation rate makes it easier for patent assertion entities (PAEs) to both acquire and assert patents. The open-source nature of cloud software and the availability of documentation and APIs have made it easier for assertion entities to make infringement arguments. Readily available services for preparation of technical summaries, detailed claim charts and reverse engineering aid in litigation support.

  3. Need for actionable information
    Organizations are increasingly relying on patent data to inform and support business decisions. Investments in the best Intellectual Property Management Software (IPMS) platforms and use of publicly available patent information can help you get started on tracking and measuring progress for long-term success. Patent analytics can be used to leverage opportunities (e.g. whitespace), identify cost savings (e.g. abandoning patents), measure quality (e.g. law firm performance), or even generate additional revenues (e.g. patent transactions or licensing). Insights derived from patent analytics remove subjectivity and frees up budgets for areas aligned with the company’s growth.

    Patent Title Assignee
    US10656975B2 Hybrid Cloud With Dynamic Bridging Between Systems of Record and Systems of Engagement International Business Machines
    US7546602B2 Application Program Interface for Network Software Platform Microsoft Technology Licensing
    US11012325B2 Method, Device and Computer Program Product for Configuring Service Instance EMC
    US10762079B2 System and Method for Managing a Blockchain Cloud Service Oracle International
    US9860677B1 Internet-of-Things Gateway Coordination Intel

    Top Rated US Patents in Cloud Computing: MaxVal’s Patent Rating System (PRS) was utilized to quickly identify patents that are potentially of high value from a large dataset of 25,000+ US in-force patents related to cloud computing without any manual categorization or filtering of the results. The top hits for each of the top 5 patent owners are shown above. When combined with internally developed criteria, the rating system can quickly point to potential areas for improvement, transaction or pruning candidates.

Professional Patent Search for Efficiency and Quality: Minimize Bottlenecks and Maximise Validity

Prior art searches are an essential part of invention disclosure assessments, IDS filings and building a quality portfolio. Conducting focused prior art searches before and after patent filings is the best way to prepare for the threat of infringement claims by patent assertion entities (PAE) or a competitor. Periodically updated landscape reports, benchmarking studies and on-demand patent mapping will provide clarity in securing innovations and litigation strategy.

Companies seeking to build quality portfolios should seek the services of third-party search companies to conduct unbiased, professional and cost-effective searches. The best search firms employ a mix of patent attorneys, engineers, and other experts who are specifically trained in searching techniques. End-to-end IP service firms offer the added advantage of being your trusted knowledge and technology partner.

Who holds the edge in different cloud technologies? Contact us to know more.

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