Greg Stobbs at SXSW
In a session that was part of this year’s SXSW Intellectual Property track, Greg Stobbs, an IP attorney with long experience in software patents and emerging technology, discussed a history of patents and how they predicted future innovative products. For example, patents issued in the 1860s in the U.S. covered such things as carburetors, rapid-fire guns, and the vacuum cleaner. These inventions did not see wide use in real products until the early 20th century.
What future tech is getting patented today? Stobbs sees mesh networks, Blockchain, and quantum dots as some of the next tech coming from IP. Mesh networks are not new, and they exist in such evolving standards as Zigbee for home automation solutions. But combining mesh networking with Blockchain, the sequential transaction technology used by Bitcoin, and quantum dots (semiconductor nanocrystals with unique properties, including the ability to emit light at very specific wavelengths) could create vast networks of interconnected tiny computers for all manner of secure payment systems, ecommerce transactions, data gathering, and more. IBM’s recently unveiled Adept protocol is one such technology for putting this together. You can bet IBM has filed patents around everything it could on this, as the company was issued over 6,000 patents in 2013 alone, and is one of the top patent holding entities in the world.