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12 January 20224 minute read

Italian DLA Piper Intellectual Property and Technology Legal Predictions for 2022

Our Italian DLA Piper 2021 Intellectual Property and Technology predictions was titled “Back to the Future.” Businesses were hoping to have overcome the pandemic and that we would have returned to how it was before COVID-19. They knew they needed to change their business model in a world whose digital transformation had been accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak, but the actual path towards success was still a puzzle.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is still far from over, and the previous uncertainty has been maturing towards acknowledging the new normal. Customers, employees and businesses habits and operations have been evolving, and there is no way back to where we were in 2019/20.

Only 16% of the respondents to our survey kept their offering as it was before the pandemic. Businesses are investing in digital transformation, AI and machine learning that will allow them to better manage the remote relationship with customers, who have quickly become more digitally educated. The investment will also help drive efficiency of employees, who are now less likely to have to commute and want to achieve a better work/life balance.

Identifying the appropriate balance between a remote and a personal relationship will be a game-changer, as 36% of our respondents emphasized that the pace of technological development might be a threat to their business.

People are tired of long video calls, but at the same time no longer accept queuing for hours and giving up their personal interests. It seems to be the perfect time to stay hungry, as great opportunities are likely to be out there, but to also stay foolish, to quote Steve Jobs, since finding the right blend to drive success has never been so hard to spot. If we think, for instance, of the rise of cryptocurrency and NFT-related projects in the last few months, that would have sounded impossible only a few years ago.

The recovery fund will be of great support to lead the change. More than half of our respondents expect the investments behind the recovery fund to lead to an improvement of their business, even if the actual timing of these improvements is still blurred. But, according to almost three-quarters of our respondents, changes to the regulatory framework are needed to fully exploit these opportunities, which risk being tangled in pieces of legislation that are not up to speed with innovation.

Governments are trying to waive boundaries to the growth of businesses, but it is a process that might take time. Identifying the right balance between innovation and compliance will be crucial in 2022 in an environment where a business will have to deal with the new EU rules on consumer protection that will affect their operations, audiovisual media services, unfair practices in the agri-food sector and cookies, to name a few. Besides, the timing of the EU regulation of AI and its obligations will also be another open question that might make businesses take a long-term approach considering its provisions in developing new products.

Some 33% of the respondents consider potential cyber-attacks a major threat to their business. In the last year, large corporations and public entities have suffered ransomware attacks that paralyzed their businesses, leading to major effects on their operations that were frozen for weeks and challenges from regulators for breach of data protection laws and customers whose data had been harvested. A famous quote from John Chambers, the former CEO of Cisco, is, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t know they have been hacked.” Businesses still believe that the most efficient solution to protect from cyber-attacks is to invest in security measures, but most attacks are due to instances of human error, which have increased with the remote working due to the pandemic. On the contrary, businesses struggle to see the value of cybersecurity compliance, which is exponentially relevant in an environment when cybersecurity is more and more regulated.

It is an exciting and simultaneously concerning time for businesses. I hope you find the predictions from the Italian DLA Piper Intellectual Property and Technology Department interesting, and I leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein that reflects our team’s approach to business. “Everyone knew it was impossible until a fool who didn’t know came along and did it.”

The Intellectual Property and Technology Predictions for 2022 are available here.