Rocket Technology & Intellectual Property Strategy
Brian Seamus Haney, Rocket Technology & Intellectual Property Strategy, 24 U.S.F. Intell. Prop. & Tech. L.J. __(2019) (Forthcoming).
38 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2019 Last revised: 27 Oct 2019
Date Written: August 14, 2019
The rapidly evolving body of rocket technology is spurring a variety of new intellectual property strategies within the launch industry. Traditionally, innovative rocket technologies have been zealously protected with patents. However, recently industry firms are increasingly using trade secrets to protect proprietary technical information. Further, the development of reusable rocket technology is disrupting the launch industry and new firms are pouring into the growing market. Two firms, SpaceX and Blue Origin are establishing themselves as the new industry leaders. However, they are deploying apparently diametrically opposed intellectual property strategies. Indeed, Blue Origin maintains a growing and robust patent portfolio, while SpaceX has not been awarded a single patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Instead SpaceX utilizes trade secrets to protect its rocket technology.
This article explores modern intellectual property strategies through the lens of the launch industry, focusing specifically on SpaceX and Blue Origin’s battle over reusable rocket technology. It is the first piece to focus specifically on the narrow body of intellectual property in the launch industry, specifically rocket technology. Additionally, it is the first piece to discuss the increasingly complex intellectual property strategies firms are deploying in the launch industry. The chaotic evolution of the patent system has changed the way in which firms protect proprietary technologies, data, and information. This article explores and explains the underlying causes of the trend toward trade secret protection in the launch industry, specifically with rocket technology.
Keywords: Intellectual Property, Space, Launch Industry, Rockets, Technology, Patents
JEL Classification: K11, C00, C61, K00, K12, K29, L20, L21, L22, L24, O31, O34, O38, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation