The world is changing around us as smart, connected devices enable unprecedented collection, sharing, and use of previously inaccessible information. Individual ordinary objects of everyday life are being augmented with microcircuits, sensors, and wireless communication capabilities, to enable real-time analysis and application of previously inaccessible data. This is the Internet of Things (the IoT). The technology is pervasive, and the promise is immense. If predictions are correct, we may live (and interact) with more than 30 billion such “smart” objects by the year 2020.
In the commercial context, development of the IoT makes it increasingly important to protect “knowledge assets” consistent with competitive advantage, privacy, and security. “Knowledge assets”—that is, intellectual property and data that may not fit within the traditional categories of intellectual property—are already critical to business. The IoT’s explosive growth means that knowledge assets are growing exponentially in number and value. The proliferation of smart, interconnected devices brings not only new components, software, systems, and methods but also new uses for individual and aggregated data. This creates new value and highlights the urgent need for strategic protection of knowledge assets.