The number of patent applications for technologies of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) grew rapidly in the last decade. The EPO identified recently a yearly growth rate of close to 20% for international patent families since 2010. In the field of AI which is an important part of the 4IR the annual growth rate was even 54.6%. Therefore, it is important for companies and especially SMEs to understand how to patent the possible digital use cases in the 4IR. On Tuesday the 02.03.2021 the Austria Wirtschaftsservice (AWS) and the national contact point IP are hosting an online webinar with Prof. Dr. Alexander Wurzer, Professor for IP management at CEIPI, to inform SME representatives and the interested public about the possibilities and best practice in the protection of use cases with IP. An example will be the protection of the digital use case: Destroying parasites on fish.

Growing fish in aquacultures has a very long tradition worldwide, but only the increased demand in the last decades has led to a shift from fishing to aquacultures. Today more than half of all marine food ranging from fish to crustacean is grown this way. Especially, 70% of atlantic salmon is today harvested within aquacultures, which amounts for 1.3 million tons of salmon every year in the North Sea alone.

But growing fish in aquacultures also faces its own problems. One main problem are parasites, which are naturally living in the sea water, such as sea lice. Traditionally, sea lice can be neutralized with good animal husbandry practice and mechanical tools. Nevertheless, the physical removal of sea lice is stressful and can harm the fish. Therefore, the introduction of non-mechanical parasite removal measures which do not harm the fish is very welcome.

One possibility is the use of lasers to destroy the parasites. The Norwegian inventor Esben Beck and founder of Stingray Marine Solutions AS developed an underwater device, which both detects the sea lice on the salmon surface with cameras and calculates the future path of the fish with the help of AI. In a next step the device can use lasers to destroy the parasites on the surface of the fish without hurting it. An advantage of the device is not only the harmless removal of the parasite, but also that it can be operated without human control day and night.

An important aspect of the development process was also the early consideration of the IP protection of the use case. Here, especially the patent EP2531022B1 “Method and device for destroying parasites on fish” was important for the protection of the business model. The inventor Esben Beck was nominated in 2019 for the European inventor Award of the EPO in the category “SMEs” for the patent protected invention. The protection was so successful for the business, that today 50 people are working to manufacture the underwater devices and the sales volume is nearly € 10 million a year. Here, you can have a look at the presentation by the EPO:

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When you are interested to learn more, you can also register for the event hosted by the Austria Wirtschaftsservice and the national contact point IP on 02.03.2021 which will be hold in German.