White Out – recent innovation in winter sports

03 January 2017

It’s that time of year again, when the snow lovers of the world flock to the mountains for a week of skiing, snowboarding, sledging and other winter sports. Safety in winter sports has become an increasing concern, as we hear about more and more accidents related to winter sports. With this in mind, we took a look at the current state of play for innovation in the skiing and snowboarding safety sector.

Key areas of innovation

We conducted a brief review of the patent applications published in the last 20 years and the findings were very interesting. According to some travel insurance companies, a third of winter sports injuries are due to skiing and almost half of skiing injuries are below the waist. It will come as no surprise then that most innovation over the last 20 years has been related to ski boots, in particular the binding and release mechanisms for ski boots, as can be seen in the chart below:

Ski chart

Jurisdictions

It is also interesting to see the analysis of the jurisdictions in which applications were filed and published below. Not unsurprisingly, many of the top filing countries are Alpine countries (France, Switzerland, Germany etc.) and the US, which is to be expected since the Alps and the US combined account for around 65-70% of the total number of skiing visits in the world1.

However, it is interesting to note that Germany has the largest number of patent applications across the world by quite a margin, which is not even including those European patent applications which have designated Germany as well. It would be interesting to know what the applicants know about Germany to make it such a hotbed for ski safety patent applications!

Table of top 25 jurisdictions

Trends over time

It can also be seen from the graph below that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of published patent applications per year since 1997, but the publications appear to have plateaued at around 70 patent applications per year since 2004.  This indicates a steady investment in the snow sports safety sector.

 

Table of families by publication year 1997 to 2016

Evidently, safety in the winter sports sector is now a steady industry with a regular number of innovations being protected each year. We look forward to seeing what innovative safety solutions winter sports companies create in the future!

Ref: 2016 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism: http://www.vanat.ch/RM-world-report-2016-vanat.pdf

Ref: Skiing injuries being below the waist: http://www.globelink.co.uk/news/Globelink-Travel-Insurance-News/winter-sports-injuries-statistics.html

Chloe Farrar

Chloe Farrar

Trainee Patent Attorney

Nina Szamocki

Nina Szamocki

Trainee Patent Attorney

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