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Intellectual Property Trends 2023

2023's IP Trends & Forecasts for 2024

Lindokuhle Mkhize

Lindokuhle Mkhize

01 December 20237 min read

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intellectual property trends 2023

2023 is a transformative intellectual property (IP) period as the Supreme Court prepares to tackle critical copyright, trademark, and patent-related issues. As technology continues to evolve and global markets become increasingly interconnected, it’s essential to understand the emerging trends and areas of focus in the IP landscape.

Join us as we examine the trends, challenges, and pivotal court decisions that lie ahead in 2023 for the captivating world of IP.

An increase in patent litigation

With the rapid advancement of technology, companies are developing new products and services that may infringe on existing patents. This has led to a surge in patent claims and subsequent litigation by patent holders. To keep up with the rising number of patent filings, the Court will likely address this issue by providing clarity on patent infringement policies, prosecution, and strategies.

Continued growth in the value of IP

IP holds growing economic value across a wide range of industries. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reports that it now represents 40% of the US GDP. Companies recognize the importance of protecting and developing their IP rights, leading to heavy investment in this field.

As technology advances, new challenges arise in the realm of copyright law. Issues such as digital rights management, online piracy, and the rights of content creators in the digital age will likely be at the forefront of discussions in 2023. The Court may address these matters to ensure copyright laws keep pace with societal and technological changes.

Rise of online brand protection

With the increase in e-commerce and online brand presence, protecting trademarks in digital spaces becomes crucial. In 2023, the Court may consider trademark cases related to online trademark infringement, unauthorized use of brand logos, and counterfeit products. The decisions made by in-house counsel could impact how businesses safeguard their brands in the digital world.

Global IP protection

IP rights extend beyond national borders. In 2023, there may be discussions regarding international agreements on patent disputes, harmonization of patent laws, and enforcement of IP rights between countries. The Supreme Court may navigate cases that have cross-border implications, considering the harmonization of patent laws or international treaties.

Patent eligibility and technological innovations

In recent years, the Supreme Court has grappled with determining the eligibility of particular inventions for patent protection. 2023 may bring additional cases involving emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and biotechnology. The Court's decisions will likely shape the boundaries of patent eligibility and have implications for industries relying on cutting-edge technologies.

Collaboration and licensing

In an increasingly interconnected world, collaborations and licensing agreements for digital assets between companies are becoming more prevalent. The Supreme Court may review cases related to the licensing and sharing IP rights, addressing issues of fair use, royalties, and licensing practices. These decisions will play a significant role in shaping how businesses collaborate and monetize their IP assets.

The year 2023 holds great potential for IP issues, with the Supreme Court's decision expected to address critical issues surrounding copyright, trademarks, and patents. As patent litigation increases and the value of IP continues to grow across industries, businesses must adapt to protect their innovations and leverage the opportunities presented by IP rights. Stay tuned for the Supreme Court's decisions that will shape the future of IP law in the coming years.

Forecast for 2024

With the start of a new year, it’s essential to look ahead and anticipate the upcoming trends and developments in the field of IP, according to the USPTO congressional budget submission. The USPTO's Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 President's Budget Submission (Budget) requests authority to spend agency user fee collections of $4,196 million, comprising $3,696 million in patent fees, $500 million in trademark fees, and $58 million in other income.

Continued focus on digital copyright protection

As digital content consumption grows, so does protecting copyrights online. For the entertainment and media industries, 2022 marked a critical inflection point. Total global entertainment and media (E&M) revenue rose 5.4% in 2022 to US$2.32 trillion. 

That represents a sharp deceleration from the 10.6% growth rate in 2021 when economies and industries globally rebounded from the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In each of the next five years, the growth rate will decline sequentially so that by 2027, revenue will grow just 2.8% from 2026. That's slower than the 3.1% rate of overall economic growth that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects for that year.

Emerging technologies

The rapid advancement of technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and biotechnology will present new challenges in patent law. In 2024, the focus will be on defining patent eligibility for inventions related to emerging technologies and addressing the intricacies of patent protection in these domains.

Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons have introduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act of 2023, a bipartisan legislation aimed at restoring patent eligibility to important inventions across various fields.

The bill seeks to address concerns over the patenting of ideas, discoveries of existing natural phenomena, and social and cultural content that falls outside the patent system's scope. The legislation maintains the existing statutory categories of eligible subject matter while excluding specific types deemed inappropriate for patent protection.

The bill has received support from organizations such as the Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP) and NCBIO (North Carolina Biosciences Organization). The bill's introduction comes as a response to confusion and uncertainty caused by Supreme Court decisions regarding patent eligibility. It aims to restore the United States' position as a global leader in innovation and technology.

Heightened importance of trade secrets

Trade secrets have always held value, but in 2024, their significance will significantly increase. As companies strive to protect their competitive advantage and confidential information, robust trade secret protection measures will be emphasized. Courts and lawmakers are likely to enact stricter regulations, ensuring that confidential business information remains secure in the face of growing cyber threats and global competition.

International patent harmonization

Harmonizing patent laws and procedures across different jurisdictions is paramount in a globalized economy. In 2024, we expect continued efforts toward international collaboration in patent systems to simplify obtaining global patent protection.

On November 13, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) published guidelines for the implementation of a new work-sharing initiative with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): the Accelerated Patent Grant (APG). The new arrangement allows eligible patent applicants to use an expedited process for obtaining a patent grant in Mexico based on a U.S. patent grant.

"Expediting patent grants affords companies, including start-ups and small businesses, the ability to protect their ideas and inventions more quickly, secure funding, and bring their ideas to market," said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. "This initiative with one of our largest trading partners provides exciting new opportunities for businesses in both countries, increasing economic activity through critical intellectual property (IP) protections."

Under the APG process, an eligible patent applicant who has been granted a U.S. patent by the USPTO may choose that the IMPI grant a patent on a corresponding Mexican patent application at any time during its processing following the publication of the application in the Mexican Industrial Property Gazette, subject to the relevant patent laws of Mexico.

Ethical considerations in IP

As technology evolves, ethical dilemmas arise in the realm of IP. In 2024, we’ll see an increased focus on the ethical implications of IP, such as the impact of AI-generated content on copyright, the ethics of patenting genetic material, and the balance between open innovation and IP protection. Policymakers, stakeholders, and IP professionals will need to navigate these complex ethical considerations and ensure the preservation of innovation while upholding ethical standards.

Unified patent court and federal circuit developments

In 2024, we can anticipate new developments in establishing the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and its impact on European patent litigation. The UPC aims to create a unified patent system across multiple European countries, streamlining patent proceedings and facilitating efficient enforcement across borders. Implementing the UPC will likely change patent litigation strategies and procedures for businesses operating within participating countries.

Similarly, the Federal Circuit will continue to shape patent law in the United States. As the specialized Court that handles appeals in patent cases, the Federal Circuit plays a critical role in setting legal precedents and interpreting patent statutes. In 2024, we can expect significant decisions and rulings from the Federal Circuit that will impact patent litigation strategies, eligibility criteria, litigation funding, and patent law interpretation.

IP is poised for significant developments

As we look ahead to 2024, the IP field is poised for significant developments and challenges. From digital copyright protection to emerging technology patents, trade secrets, international harmonization, and ethical considerations, these trends will shape how we protect and enforce IP rights. Staying informed and adaptable to these evolving trends will be crucial for businesses, innovators, and IP professionals seeking to successfully navigate the ever-changing IP landscape.

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Lindokuhle Mkhize, a skilled creative copywriter and content lead at Trademarkia, brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation and managing teams. With previous success in starting and growing the Innovation and Marketing department at her former creative agency, Lindokuhle boasts expertise in leadership and delivering compelling content. Based in South Africa, Lindokuhle's work focuses on key themes of creativity, effective communication, and strategic marketing.