Intellectual Property Law is responsible for the regulation of any creation of the mind in any form. The advent of the fourth industrial revolution has brought forth wide ranging new models in information systems, economies, processes, and interactions. These include open sourcing, sharing economies, and on-demand manufacture, enabled by cyber-physical systems, and all driven by disruptive technologies presenting new challenges to regulate the resulting new and more abstract intellectual properties. These developments in technology will shape into novel models for architecture, engineering, and construction by dramatically shifting new supply chains. The critical review will serve as a researched projection into these possible opportunities and how we may navigate from the individual to the social and finally to the legislature to best help the industry adapt. 

An Industrial revolution is defined as a significant shift in the paradigm of production due to new methods which disrupt the chains of supply, production, transportation. These new methods are usually embodied in disruptive technologies. Intellectual property has always been instrumental in regulating the resulting technological landscape, while also re-adapting itself in order to stay relevant as a form of legislature. This paper will  produce a framework of how this development has progressed from the disruptive technologies and their subsequent revolutions and how intellectual property reacted. 

Specifically, we look at contextual weaknesses evident in the current IP system that historically have not adjusted efficiently for innovation, manufacture and consumption with these new shifts. Finally, using these insights in order to best predict the reactive change in legislature to these new technologies and how they might best be implemented. For this reason, we propose a series of guidelines by which legislation and mindset might shape itself in the near future.

This research follows a framework of investigation in order to critically evaluate the nature of IP and its development with technology. This culminates in a set of assessments of the nature of these relations and a projection over new models and opportunities for the AEC industry. 

Foremost will be establishing an understanding of IP law in its current context, as a reference to study its development. Allowing for a deconstruction into the reactive case judgments that gave rise to the current paradigm. This will then be related to existing collated research of the trends and behavior of industrial change. From here we will be able to see the change in the nature of production and consumption  and analyse the trends in development of industry in terms of information.  These periods of stability of information and legislation in industry will be considered in a socio-economic context in order to detail the exact models of interaction that are ultimately defining legislation. From this understanding of the reaction of legislation to these shifts we will critically analyse new models and forecast opportunities especially for the AEC industry. 

The scope of the research is to, through an understanding of how technology is shaping current paradigms, inform a pathway to navigating intellectual property. This may be applicable to any scale of implementation, from business strategy to personal priority, however it serves as an initial investigation into the relation of IP as a tool, how it shapes manufacture and consumption, and how new technologically enabled models present new opportunities.


An Investigation into Intellectual Property in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Master in Robotics and Advanced Construction 2019/2020 by students: Abdullah Sheikh, Matthew Gordon,  Faculty: Mathilde Marengo