IP vision blog banner

IPVision Blog

Written by Joe Khurana

Copycat IP? Walmart Applies for Floating Drone Delivery System Patent

walmart drone blimp patentIf that headline made you look twice, we don’t blame you. Walmart patenting a drone delivery system? And not only that, a drone delivery system that floats in the air like a big blimp? We’ve heard this story before, but it was Amazon telling the tale.

Twin Patents?

It’s unusual for a competitor to go after the similar patented technology. No one really wants to go through the irritation of an infringement suit, not even companies with deep pockets like Amazon and Walmart.

However, it’s easy to see that Amazon has put a bit of a cramp in Walmart’s style, and the retail giant is definitely feeling the pinch. Over the last few years, they’ve stepped their ecommerce game, introduced shipping incentives that rival Amazon, and have recently paired with Google to introduce voice-activated shopping.

With this patent, a floating blimp would be operated remotely, allowing drones to collect items stored on board. It really does seem like they’re going after Amazon’s technology.

Where’s the White Space?

We always advise that companies look for the white space surrounding a particular piece of technology to avoid potential lawsuits later. Where is there room for innovation? Well, Walmart found it—44,000 feet below Amazon.

The details of Amazon’s patent include the ability to float up to 45,000 feet above ground. Walmart just wants to hover around 1,000 feet. Walmart also includes potential event service, where their blimps would hover over sporting events and concerts to deliver food, drinks, souvenirs, and other purchases to audience members within minutes.

Is that enough white space? According to the USPTO, it seems to be. The small differences might just be enough to avoid some nasty courtroom drama later, but we’ll have to see what Amazon does with the information about this particular patent.

Fostering True Innovation

While a future filled with floating blimps sounds pretty exciting, we’ll all have to wait and see if these lofty plans pan out for Walmart and Amazon. In the meantime, we’re here to help you with your innovation goals.

In addition to some pretty neat and innovative (if we do say so ourselves) tools, we also walk right alongside you throughout the entire process. The difference between our innovation consulting and that provided by other firms is that we constantly have an eye toward the intellectual property involved. Walmart may have purposely stepped into Amazon’s path here, but we’re sure that’s not the most effective way to innovate. Knowing the white space available and presenting truly innovative products—those that resonate with your buyers and really solve their pain—is what will set you apart from your competitors, not keep you in their shadow.

If you’d like to learn more about our innovation consulting methods, give us a call. We’re here to help.

iscore demo

Categories: Patent Landscape