Patent applications give us a glimpse into the future plans of some of the brands that affect our day-to-day lives — both positively and negatively. From a business perspective they can provide us with valuable insight into the innovative thinking of our closest competitors.
A recent patent application filed by aviation giant Airbus hints at what few would describe as an improvement in the economy travel sector — mezzanine seating! This innovation sees passengers effectively ‘stacked’ on-board in two layers with the additional layer of seating arranged from the ceiling of the aircraft. An Airbus statement in the patent reads, “In modern means of transport, in particular in aircraft, it is very important from an economic point of view to make optimum use of the available space in a passenger cabin”. However, before we all start groaning about how flying economy is bad enough without having another passenger seated above our heads, a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean these ideas are going to be adopted.
The patent process simply protects the idea and innovation, blocking the competition from directly adopting it and allowing it to be used further down the line if required. With the pace of today’s ever-changing business environment, even a small difference that can give a company’s product or service offering an advantage can equate to a big difference in market share.
Businesses need to keep an eye on their competitors or risk being left behind. Keeping a close eye on their intellectual property is a highly effective way to uncover clues as to their future plans.
From identifying how they are investing their money, to details about new product development, patent applications will hint at product enhancements and new market penetration plans on competitors agendas.
"Patent applications can often be the first public information about what your competitors are doing. It's really useful to set up a watching search that takes a regular look and lets you know what's been released recently. Not only does that alert you to possible threats, it also gives you the inside line of what directions they are going."
Michael Downing, Downing IP