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The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by a number of factors including security concerns, and the growing importance of technologies such as cloud and digital rights management. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Cybersecurity: Digital rights management (DRM) tools. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

70+ innovations will shape the retail industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, smart contracts and transaction data blockchains are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Biometric payments, and blockchain payments are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are user biometric authentication and e-commerce robotic process automation, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for cybersecurity in the retail industry

Digital rights management (DRM) tools is a key innovation area in cybersecurity

Digital rights management (DRM) can be defined as the usage of technology to manage and control access to copyrighted material. It helps in protecting content from unauthorised modification and distribution. It offers media and entertainment companies protection from cybersecurity challenges such as the protection of customer data, enhancement of operational efficiency, and the prevention of downtime.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of digital rights management (DRM) tools.

Key players in digital rights management (DRM) tools – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to digital rights management (DRM)

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SoftBank Group 249 Unlock Company Profile
Broadcom 81 Unlock Company Profile
Microsoft 65 Unlock Company Profile
Intertrust Technologies 55 Unlock Company Profile
Pendrell 44 Unlock Company Profile
Qualcomm 39 Unlock Company Profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 30 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 29 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 29 Unlock Company Profile
Flexera Software 29 Unlock Company Profile
eBay 22 Unlock Company Profile
Lumen Technologies 20 Unlock Company Profile
Shift4 Payments 19 Unlock Company Profile
Capital One Financial 18 Unlock Company Profile
Nasdaq 15 Unlock Company Profile
Verimatrix 14 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 14 Unlock Company Profile
Kaspien Holdings 14 Unlock Company Profile
BankGuard 14 Unlock Company Profile
Wistaria Trading 11 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 10 Unlock Company Profile
Audible Magic 9 Unlock Company Profile 9 Unlock Company Profile
Tata Sons Pvt 9 Unlock Company Profile
Brightcove 9 Unlock Company Profile
NCR 9 Unlock Company Profile
Digimarc 9 Unlock Company Profile
BDNA 9 Unlock Company Profile
Oracle 8 Unlock Company Profile
Western Digital 8 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 7 Unlock Company Profile
nChain Holdings 7 Unlock Company Profile
Rpx 7 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 7 Unlock Company Profile
Tillster 7 Unlock Company Profile
Xperi Holding 7 Unlock Company Profile
Startbahn 6 Unlock Company Profile
Nokia 6 Unlock Company Profile
Staton Techiya 6 Unlock Company Profile
Verizon Media 6 Unlock Company Profile
PayPal Holdings 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 6 Unlock Company Profile
Citigroup 6 Unlock Company Profile
NEC 6 Unlock Company Profile
Pixelmags 6 Unlock Company Profile
ADOBE 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading patent filers in digital rights management in terms of cybersecurity are SoftBank Group, Broadcom, Microsoft, and Intertrust Technologies. Intertrust provides a service called ExpressPlay Media Security Suite, which consists of a cloud-based multi-digital rights management (DRM) service and forensic watermarking and anti-piracy services. It’s a monetisation service based on cloud for distributors of VOD and live services and content owners. The service supports DRM systems including Google Widevine, Apple FairPlay Streaming, Marlin DRM, and Microsoft PlayReady.

Leading players in this space in terms of application diversity are Broadcom, Digimarc, Staton Techiya, and Lumen Technologies.

Leading players by means of geographic reach include nChain, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intertrust Technologies, and Qualcomm.

DRM solutions protect companies’ data using restrictive licensing, one way hashing, digital trust infrastructure, secure communication protocols, and timebound decryption keys.  It represents a significant step towards boosting cybersecurity for firms.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Cybersecurity in Retail.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.