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Aon Intellectual Property Assets Briefing - March 2022

Thoughts from the Aon Team

One thing is for certain – we are living in uncertain economic times. The multiple sources of disruption are affecting all aspects of business, including intellectual property.

Even in certain times, the research we have conducted consistently finds that Intellectual Property (IP) is undervalued, under-protected and underappreciated as a source of significant value to companies of all sizes, at all stages and in all industries. Our year-end IP Trends report shows that IP litigation continues to trend upward.

Given the current uncertainty, it is critical for businesses to understand that their IP is one of their most valuable assets, and it typically retains significant value throughout economic cycles, including during recessionary periods. As companies grapple with evolving business models to face disruption, they must find ways to best leverage their IP assets to add liquidity, deflect potential IP-based risks, and protect a re-imagined post-crisis future. Having the right IP strategy in place will help maximize value and protect it from threats.

As always, thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please let us know.

Lewis Lee, CEO, Aon IP Solutions


Aon in the News

  • Aon launched a new insurance product for mid-sized banks that combines coverage across cyber, crime and professional liability into one policy.
  • A survey conducted by Aon found that one in four offers made by new tech companies was rejected by candidates in the last half of 2021. The findings underscore the growing difficulty of attracting and retaining talent over the last year.
  • Sven Roelandt was appointed head of a global team to focus on captives for employee benefits related to reinsurance issues.


Executive Insights

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has sided with Echelon Fitness in its arguments that Peloton’s streaming and on-demand technologies are not patentable due to the fact that they are “obvious inventions.” Peloton’s critics say the company’s strategy of suing rivals for patent infringements could be backfiring. Peloton sued Echelon in 2019 for stealing its technology and flooding the market with cheaper copycat imitators. 
  • Google was ordered to pay $20 million after a patent trial determined that the company violated a company’s patent rights with its Nest smart thermostat. Energy-management company EcoFactor had patented a method for automatically reducing energy usage during peak demand, which a jury said was infringed on by Google’s Nest. EcoFactor has also filed lawsuits against Amazon, Ecobee, Vivint and others over smart-thermostat technology.
  • A new study conducted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that no single company is dominating in the 5G technology field. An analysis of 5G-related patent filings over the last decade suggests that six companies — Qualcomm, Ericsson, Huawei, LG, Nokia, and Samsung — consistently filed more 5G-related patent applications, contributing to a “vibrant digital economy” around the globe in telecoms technology. 
    • The European Union has accused China of deterring European companies from protecting their telecom patents in Chinese courts, launching a legal challenge against China at the World Trade Organization. The European Commission said Chinese courts have been issuing injunctions to keep EU companies from safeguarding their standard-essential patents while attempting to meet specific international standards.
  • Music NFT website HitPiece is facing a lawsuit from the ​​Recording Industry Association of America for “flagrant” IP violations in which musicians said the site was selling their music as NFTs without permission. The website was showing hundreds of what appeared to be active auctions for NFTs tied to artists’ albums and songs, from artists such as The Beatles, Taylor Swift and Bob Dylan to smaller independent acts.
    • Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine has forged a partnership with World of Women to begin adapting NFTs into movies and TV shows. The partnership WoW, an NFT collective, underscores the potential of NFTs for traditional media companies looking to acquire intellectual property. 

"WIPO Facts and Figures" - World Intellectual Property Organization / Source: WIPO


News of Interest

  • 3 burning questions spurred by the big CRISPR patent ruling - STAT - 3/2/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 11 Interactions; Twitter: 56 Tweets
    • On Monday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that CRISPR patents key to developing human therapies belong to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and not the home institutions of Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier — the two scientists who won the Nobel Prize for creating the revolutionary genome-editing technology.
  • Nike sues StockX over NFTs - Vogue Business - 2/4/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 2 Interactions; Twitter: 31 Tweets
    • The explosion of interest in the metaverse is raising all sorts of new legal issues. Nike has this week filed a lawsuit against streetwear resale marketplace StockX over digital renders of the sneaker giant’s footwear sold to StockX customers as NFTs. The lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in the southern district court of New York, is the latest in a series of intellectual property legal battles related to the metaverse.
  • It’s Not Just COVID: Understanding the Drop in U.S. Patent Application Filings - IPWatchdog - 2/9/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 0 Interactions; Twitter: 9 Tweets
    • While the coronavirus pandemic certainly forced businesses to make adjustments, factors other than the pandemic seem to be responsible for the drop in the number of patent applications filed by U.S. applicants in the United States prior to and during the pandemic, keeping in mind that U.S. applicants managed to file enough worldwide patent applications to maintain their second-place ranking.
  • NFT IP infringement heats up—what brands need to know - Ad Age - 2/10/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 1 Interaction; Twitter: 34 Tweets
    • Last December, Pepsi released its “Mic Drop” NFT collection, an artistic series of digital microphones that attracted fans of the soda giant, but also scam artists. Scams on platforms like OpenSea threaten brand activations
  • Protecting Intellectual Property in the Digital Age - CPO Magazine - 1/27/2022
    • Outbound Virality: Facebook: 1 Interaction; Twitter: 13 Tweets
    • According to a research conducted by Reuters, an estimated 70% of new value created in the coming decade is forecast to be based on digitally-enabled platforms. As companies and creators thrive on a digital space, it is crucial for them to protect their assets and provide value to these assets.


Social Contribution

  • Angie Jones @techgirl1908 31 Jan Meta joins Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA) and agrees not to enforce its core cryptocurrency patents — except in defense of litigation. Open access is necessary for the industry to grow, innovate, and build new products. Retweets: 2 Likes: 9
  • Perry Cooper @PerryECooper 7 Feb The Federal Circuit threw out another mega patent infringement verdict Friday. A billion-dollar award is “sexy but it’s just begging for scrutiny,” @wsurferesq said. Here's more from Matt Bultman: Retweets: 2 Like: 1
  • Darren Heitner @DarrenHeitner 4 Feb The intellectual property lawsuits surrounding NFT sales are just getting started. Recently, Hermès initiated a lawsuit against the creator of a "METABIRKINS" NFT project. Brands will become more proactive in going after this type of infringement. Retweets: 3 Likes: 19
  • FBI @FBI 7 Mar "Made in Beijing: The Plan for Global Market Domination,” a short film produced by the #FBI, aims to help the private sector recognize the urgent need to protect intellectual property against industrial espionage by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Retweets: 212 Likes: 408
  • Fuad Alakbarov ⁠⁠ @DrAlakbarov 11 Feb Armenian-Georgian relations have taken a sour turn over Georgia’s refusal to allow Armenian yogurt to cross its border, deeming the dairy product to be an infringement of Georgian intellectual property. Retweet: 1 Likes: 7

Aon’s Intellectual Property Solutions team helps clients identify, protect, and maximize value from their most valuable assets in today’s business world, their intellectual property. Aon brings the best minds and strong analytical tools to provide a comprehensive approach to intellectual property strategy, valuation and risk management across a client’s business -- aligning current and future intellectual property assets with a businesses’ overarching strategy.

For more information about Aon’s Intellectual Property Solutions, please contact  

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