February 16, 2023

How To Create And Protect Quantum Intellectual Property To Maintain Your Competitive Edge


All of the major IT analyst firms that are investigating quantum computing think that the world will start to see quantum applications of significant value within the next 10 years at the most:

  • Gartner opines that: "Quantum computing’s true potential remains a decade away."
  • McKinsey & Co. says for sectors like pharmaceuticals, it “may come as early as 2030."
  • Capgemini reports that 43% of organizations working on quantum technologies expect them to be available for use in at least one major commercial application in 3-5 years.

Industry sector leaders also expect quantum disruption in short order. Goldman Sachs predicts that quantum computing is five years away from use in financial markets. Rolls-Royce expects quantum machines to be reliable enough to do serious evaluations in five to 10 years.

So, if you haven’t yet formed a skunkworks team to investigate quantum, start now. It may seem intimidating, but your approach to quantum computing—and quantum software development—will not be unlike any other technology that you have worked on. And building internal knowledge about quantum computing now will be critical to your future success.

But don’t stop there. As you create new quantum applications, file patents on those applications so that you can protect your intellectual property (IP). Quantum applications will begin creating business value and disruption within 10 years, but IP patents last 20 years. And the cost of filing a patent is trivial, but the cost of being patent-fenced out can be tremendous.

Avoid Getting Fenced Out

Quantum patent filings are rising rapidly. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO) are granting around 2,000 patents related to quantum technologies per year, according to this academic paper, which shows the upward trend.

China holds the largest share (54%) of patents in all major types of quantum technologies, according to McKinsey & Company, and China’s Huawei has patented a quantum computer. IBM is also a leader in the quantum patent race. My company, Classiq, continues to file patent applications at the core of the quantum computing stack. Other technology solution providers such as Multiverse Computing and Quantinuum have filed recent quantum patents, too.

The businesses that employ solution providers’ technology are working to build quantum IP assets as well. The quantum computing exploration of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is largely driven by a desire to develop and protect intellectual property in this space, according to Matt Versaggi, who works for Optum Technology, the technology arm of UHG.

And when Classiq recently asked more than 500 professionals across sectors whether their organizations are currently patenting or have plans to patent quantum software-related IP, 71% said yes. Ninety percent said that quantum computing could be an important source of IP for a company. And 73% said that they understand competing organizations patenting quantum software IP may block them from benefiting from future quantum computing applications.

Full article by Forbes here.