We are less than two weeks away from IAM’s inaugural Auto IP Asia event, which is taking in place at the Shanghai Marriot City Centre Hotel on 5 December 2019.
Building on the success of our Auto IP events in the US and Europe over the past few years, and in response to rapidly growing interest in IP around the region, this one-day event is dedicated to discussing the distinctive IP challenges and opportunities confronting the region’s auto sector.
Asian companies are at the centre of the changes rocking the industry – rapidly advancing technology, increased need for collaboration and convergence-driven patent disputes. Here are some of the themes that will be high on the agenda in Shanghai.
The licensing landscape
Front of mind for many in the industry are the high-profile patent and antitrust battles putting automakers and tier one suppliers against major wireless and chip patent owners. The most closely watched of these, the Avanci campaign, has so far involved litigation only against German brand Daimler and supplier Continental.
Some key Asian SEP owners including Sony and Panasonic have signed up to the Avanci platform. Sharp is even playing a central role as one of the patent litigants against Daimler in Germany. The licensing group’s most recent announcement of new licensors included Korean patent fund Intellectual Discovery as well as Taiwan’s Acer.
But many automakers in the region remain sceptical of the model, and it seems like some of its biggest SEP owners do too. One of the most significant recent developments in the dispute was the news last month that Huawei has filed an antitrust complaint against Nokia in Germany. Legal commentator Florian Mueller reports that Huawei is seeking a FRAND offer for an SEP licence covering Huawei's cellular connectivity modules.
Major Chinese companies do not always line up on the same side of big SEP questions, but Huawei’s entry into the auto fray could be a clue that Avanci and other licensing efforts in the space could face significant resistance among Chinese automakers, which are so far focused on the domestic market and developing countries.
Patent risks in the space are not confined to wireless SEPs. Just last week, Toyota earned a major victory by avoiding an ITC exclusion order in a case brought by Broadcom over infotainment systems. On the other side of the coin, Japanese electronics maker Kyocera has successfully licensed its haptics patents to auto suppliers including Bosch and Preh.
Mandate to collaborate
While these major legal battles have attracted plenty of news headlines, convergence is not all about conflict. The proliferation of technologies in the vehicle also means that automakers need strong technology partnerships to stay competitive.
Toyota is a case in point. Notably, the world’s largest automaker has been way out ahead of other companies in partnering with key Chinese players. Toyota has partnerships with automaker BYD, ride-hailing service Didi, autonomous driving startup Pony.ai and battery maker CATL.
The company is also hoping to use its massive patent portfolio to generate business supplying and servicing hybrid electric drive systems to other brands. Toyota made 24,000 related patents – some of which it had previously licensed out – available on a royalty-free basis.
Big changes in China
Shanghai is home to China’s Auto City development area, and is a key hub for foreign automakers in China as well as some of the country’s domestic upstarts. Recent policy changes are set to impact both.
China relied in part on state subsidies to spur the growth of a dynamic ecosystem for electric vehicle production, with companies mostly focusing on the domestic market. But over the past year, Chinese authorities have slashed manufacturing and purchase subsidies for electric vehicles, which could jump start competition in the crowded space.
Foreign companies still do not have access to subsidies, but they can now produce electric vehicles independently in China if they meet certain government requirements. Decreased subsidies for local rivals should make foreign players more competitive, and major brands like GM, Toyota and Volkswagen have all announced plans to scale up electric vehicle production in China.
That should open up further opportunities for collaboration, and potentially some conflict too.
Auto IP Asia attendees will hear about all these issues and more from speakers representing BYD, Honda, Huawei, Intel, Mobileye, Nissan, Nokia, SAIC Motor, Toyota and others.
There isn’t much time left to register and spaces are filling fast. Click here to make sure you are able to join us in Shanghai.
This article first appeared in IAM. For further information please visit https://www.iam-media.com/corporate/subscribe