It is not easy to anticipate the top developments in the IP field we are facing in 2016; we could expect a transitional year, with a view on the future not fully materialized, yet.
However here are some of the steps we may expect to take this year.
Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court, almost
In 2015 the final pieces in the UP/UPC puzzle have been put in their position. Among them, the Italian decision to join the enhanced cooperation and participate to the system. In 2016 we should expect some refinements to take place, and some beta-testing (from the court IT infrastructure to the Rules of Procedure and the related practical regulations). Then we should buckle up for the actual launch of the system, scheduled for early 2017.
UsedSoft and OSS
The EU Court of Justice decision in the UsedSoft dispute is paving the way for rethinking the way software agreements are drafted, interpreted and litigated. We should expect some further developments, both for users and for developers. Add the increased importance of Open Source Software and the final picture becomes pretty interesting for everyone.
CRISPR / Cas9 revolution
The interference proceeding that is going to commence in 2016 before the US Patent Office on the CRISPR / Cas9 patents brought this disrupting technology on the IP radar. Expect further development of its application in every conceivable field, from pharma to food to consumer products. Patent law shall (again!) prove itself to be able to deal with innovative technologies and their effects on multiple industries.
Automotive industry meets IP
In 2015 electric vehicles and self-driving cars become mainstream; chances are that this development will continue in 2016 and in the following years. Whatever the pace of the adoption of these advancements, the role of intellectual property in our cars is bound to increase dramatically, radically transforming the automotive industry.
The end of the wars
Unfortunately we do not see a year of peace ahead. If we look to IP only, however, some of the main technology wars (Apple vs. Samsung, iOS vs. Android, to name a few) are becoming less and less relevant and may well end up in settlements. Such an outcome will support the conclusion that those technologies become mature ones and that the research is shifting to other fields (from blockchain solutions to Virtual Reality to Artificial Intelligence).