Patent protection for manufacturing in space

In light of the recent announcement that funding will be made available for a number of innovative UK space businesses, ADS and Marks & Clerk LLP Patent Attorneys have explored how members can navigate the rules around IP for an emerging area of this sector; Manufacturing in Space.

Whilst the discussion around patent protection in space is not new, the concept of manufacturing in space raises the question of how patent protection extends to processes carried out in orbit, and to manufactured components upon their return to Earth.

As the sector becomes increasingly commercialized, more organisations have access to the abyss above than ever before. The greater accessibility drives involvement from both small and large businesses and with this, an inherent race to innovate faster and more efficiently.

With an increase in the quantity and quality of engineering taking place for and in orbit, the attention is likely to shift focus from ‘Creation’ to ‘Preservation and Protection’ – where businesses such as Marks & Clerk LLP Patent Attorneys have sought to make sense of the patent protection landscape in space. This becomes more important to understand when one takes into account the cost, complexity and risk of the space industry.

Marks & Clerk LLP have keenly written this report with the aim of helping members navigate the patent protection landscape of space. In this report they answer questions such as ‘What is protected?’ and ‘Are there any loopholes?’ as well as highlighting key points for an IP strategy that can make best use of the patent system as it stands now, with an eye to potential developments in the future.

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