With the proliferation of electronic devices into virtually every aspect of home and office life, it is staggering to think that within living memory only a single transistor existed in the whole of Europe. Now there are billions upon billions of them, contributing to a revolution of semiconductor technology by bringing increasing reliability and functionality (with lower cost) to the devices underpinning modern life. From the transistor level, through embedded systems to interfaces which provide rich user experiences the progression of consumerization of information technology continues apace.
As well as using patents to protect the fundamental technology underpinning the operation of consumer electronics products, it is important to appreciate the value in protecting functionality at a higher level, for example in the interface between the product and the user. Design protection can also be particularly useful when the appeal of a product is influenced by its styling, thinking how consumers can see the product fitting into their hand, and their day to day life. And from the point of view of manufacturers rather than consumers, there are manufacturing efficiencies and automation techniques that drive down production costs and make products accessible to more and more people.
With great experience in this field, including over twenty years experience representing one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world, Appleyard Lees has seen the progress of consumer electronics technology and corresponding progress in appreciation of the strategic importance of IP rights in this field. Strong, enforceable patents, complemented by registered design protection for striking aesthetic features are key. Most of the players in the “mobile phone wars” have crossover into the consumer electronics field, so a patent and design portfolio to act as both sword and shield is essential.