Effect of Industry 4.0 on Patent Filings

Industry 4.0 stands for the fourth industrial revolution. In the future, products are manufactured through the production process independently using intelligent/smart factories/machines. In this, raw materials and machines use internet-of-things to connect with each other, which helps to provide mass production with the individualized learning system; these systems are known as cyber-physical systems.

A smart factory consists of following elements:

(1) a fast, secure network system; (2) standardized data formats; (3) embedded digital product memories for mass customization; (4) smart sensors for capturing context information; (5) communication between machines and products through the factory’s internet system; and (6) decentralized item-level production control.

Technology pillars for industry 4.0: Internet-of-things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud computing, Big data/Analytics, Nanotech, Advanced Robotics, Sensors, Blockchain, 3D-Printing, Augmented reality, Quantum computing, Edge computing.   

When we go back to history, the first steam engine which works with the help of hydropower evolved in the 18th century. In the 19th century, we can see the evolution of electrical engineering and mass production. In this era, first moving belt conveyors were used. From the mid-1970s world began to run in IT illusion and expands rapidly into an industry. Now the future is industry 4.0.

For many years IP practitioners had concentrated on how to use IP rights to protect tangible things. However, with the initiation of industry 4.0, the practitioners’ attention towards attaining the rights on intangible assets such as methodologies, the configuration of virtual systems, data ownership, handling and storage, processing algorithms, brand recognition, etc.

Patent Filings by Assignees:

Figure 1. It shows the distribution of patent filings across the top assignees in the field of industry 4.0. CANON KK with significant patent filings as emerged as a top filer with SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD taking the second spot. It is also observed that amidst big players like TOYOTA, SONY, MITSUBISHI, DENSO, HONDA, RICOH, IBM, HITACHI, SEIKO EPSON, NISSAN, SIEMENS, LG, QUALCOMM, GE, TOSHIBA, etc., also have high patent filings in Industry 4.0.

Geographical coverage:

Figure 2 shows the geographical distribution of the patents in the area of Industry 4.0. It can be observed that most patents are filed in China and Japan. Apart from the CN and JP, extensive patent filing is seen in countries like the US, EP, and KR, indicating high-end research and development in the field of industry 4.0 in these countries.

Patenting trends in Industry 4.0:

Figure 3 shows the patenting trends in the area of Industry 4.0. It can be observed that there is an increase in filing an application over the years. And this analysis also showcases an interesting point that is if we observe the applications filed and grant published curves from the year 2011 – 2018, the number of applications filed in their respective year is more than the granted ones, when comes to 2019, the number of applications filed is lesser than the granted ones. From this study, we can say that the filing of continuation/continuation-in-part/divisional applications may take place.


From this case study, there will be a steep increase in various technological domains of Industry 4.0 leads to show a massive impact in global businesses and manufacturing industries. And there will be a broad scope of filing intangible rights to protect their productivity rather than the products.






Patent filings, Industry 4.0, Industry 4.0, patent filing, patent geographical report, patent trends