Patent issues and the ‘internet of things’

By Paul England and Kathleen Fox Murphy

The ‘internet of things’ (IoT) is a term coined by Kevin Ashton of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His explanation of the IoT serves as a working definition: ‘People have limited time, attention and accuracy — all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things — using data they gathered without any help from us — we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best.’

In other words, the IoT is the idea of everyday objects informing and being informed about other objects systematically, via connection and exchange of information over the internet. It is in its infancy at present, but if the theory is borne out the implications of the IoT on everyday life are very great. It will, in the words of Cisco chief executive John Chambers, ‘change the way people live, work and play’. Indeed, there is no shortage of examples put forward of things the IoT could do, including real-time price adjustment for supermarket customers based on their particular shopping habits, monitoring car rentals, managing haulage logistics and optimising manufacturing processes according to demand and cost and supply of materials.

One attractive application of the IoT is in traffic control. Imagine a system in which the Highways Agency, automated cars (a technology already being tested), service stations, weather stations, local town traffic systems and even garages for repair are connected by the internet. Each feeds in information about its status to the appropriate protocols on the internet so that the others can respond accordingly. A passenger starting in London could set out for Edinburgh and be guided in real-time according to traffic jams, road works, the best-price diesel (and whether the diesel pumps are working), the effect of the weather on the road, who has a replacement wing mirror in stock and which service station still has cheese sandwiches available for lunch…

If you are registered and logged in to the site, click on the link below to read the rest of the Taylor Wessing briefing. If not, please register or sign in with your details below.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.

Briefings from Taylor Wessing

View more briefings from Taylor Wessing

Analysis from The Lawyer

  • merger deal

    Corporate crunch time: who will triumph at The Lawyer Awards 2014?

    As the equity capital markets rocketed back into favour and global M&A saw at least a partial return to form, there have been some rich pickings for The Lawyer’s Corporate Team of the Year award shortlisted firms in 2014. 

  • singapore orchid

    Singapore: Cash course

    The city-state is working hard to become a global wealth management hub, and law firms are gearing up for a prosperous new world

View more analysis from The Lawyer


5 New Street Square

Turnover (£m): 241.20
No. of lawyers: 860 (UK 200)
Jurisdiction: UK
No. of offices: 6
No. of qualified lawyers: 73 (International 50)
No. of partners: 29