The march of modern technology is unstoppable. At any one time, there is much speculation over the status of the latest killer app that is in development, and the revelation of new technology can have a massive effect of a company’s profile and share price. One of the most eagerly anticipated advances by the media has been the creation of a ‘smartwatch’. What would essentially be a smartphone which can be worn on your wrist could open the door to a swath of wearable consumer electronic devices should there prove to be a market for such items.

Naturally, any company developing such a device would want to keep any technological advances to themselves until they were ready to proceed to market. So how is it we see news articles appearing on a regular basis proclaiming the next leap forwards in the smartwatch technology.

It has been reported that the Korean technology giants Samsung have filed patent applications for several smartwatch designs at the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and once a patent application has been published, it is freely available from KIPO. KIPO provides a patent search system in English, KIPRIS, at http://www.kipris.or.kr/enghome/main.jsp. Just searching for Samsung, the most popular search term on KIPRIS will yield thousands of results. If you sort the results by date however, you will get an idea of what Samsung are working on at the moment.

Based on the application numbers given on the original reporting article, we see that they all begin with the number 3, indicating that these are registered designs rather than patent applications. With the sheer volume of designs registered by Samsung, it can be difficult to search for specific designs in KIPRIS without knowledge of Korean, so our best bet in English is the search wizard, which will allow us to enter the application numbers to easily locate the designs.

We also have a clearer view of what Samsung are going to call their product from their application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A quick trip to their Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) will allow us to search for any relevant applications. Typing Samsung into the search field yields the most recent (at time of writing) trademark application 86022079 for the Samsung Galaxy Gear. In combination with the registered designs at KIPO, we can reasonably assume that Samsung are gearing up to release wearable technology soon.

The importance of registering intellectual property in a fast-moving field cannot be understated. Companies spending considerable resources in research and development cannot afford to have their ideas copied as soon as they come to market, and as a result, they will obtain intellectual property protection. Because of this, we can get a glimpse into the future by undertaking quick and easy searches.