The WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty and Sport-related Inventions

In sport, technological innovation can help enhance athletic performance as well as safeguard the wellbeing of athletes by providing improved equipment and training methods. And when the research and development of innovators crystallizes in technological advances, they often seek to protect those inventions via the patent system.

WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system is the service most often used when seeking potential multinational patent protection for inventions, under which the filing of a single patent application has the legal effect of having filed national patent applications in all of the PCT’s 152 member states, providing innovators with many options for ultimately seeking patent protection.

The inventions which are the subjects of these international patent applications can be from many sport-related fields, including “smart” sports equipment, connected technology for monitoring performance and biometric data, or new equipment for existing sports (or, in some cases, equipment for entirely new sports).  Among all of the patent applications seeking to protect technology included in the broad category of sporting innovations, the following examples highlight interesting innovations:

The U.S. Company Garmin has filed many PCT applications covering technologies designed to monitor the heart rate, blood pressure, physiological condition and optimal performance conditions of athletes (for example, the recent PCT/US2018/047963, “Analog Watch with Touch Interface”) in which the sensors can capture heart rate, pulse oximetry, fitness information, etc.:

Analog watch with touch interface.

The apparatus required for the new sport Teqball, a game similar to table tennis using a traditional football and attendant skills (kicking and heading the ball, instead of using a bat), was the subject of a PCT application filed in Hungary in 2013 (PCT/HU2013/000107, “Multi-purpose Sports Apparatus”). Based on this PCT application, the company has been granted numerous patents in many countries. 

Multi-purpose sports apparatus.

And these are additional, and very recent examples, of sport-related PCT applications:

Sports training system

A sensor-equipped practice mat for sports such as baseball (WO2019071226).

Helmet with display and safety function for sport activities

Includes visualization and safety functions for cyclists and skiers (WO2019053757).

A training device

To improve heading techniques in soccer (WO2019058359).

Swim AR goggles

Providing a head-mounted augmented reality display system for competitive swimmers (WO2019040736).