Pulse news magazine

Volume 23, September 2018

Made to stick

Even with more than 1,000 patents to its credit, ES is not leaning on its past to tell the story of the future.
They may not wield a brush and palette, but BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems (ES) engineers are busy painting the technology picture of tomorrow. That painting is quickly coming together by the brushstroke in the form of new inventions.

Even with more than 1,000 patents to its credit, ES is not leaning on its past to tell the story of the future. The business has increased its total number of invention disclosures in each of the last three years. Now it’s taking that a step further, putting paint to canvas and filing more than 300 invention disclosures – passing its 2017 total – at the year’s midway point. 

“We’re pedaling harder this year,” said Edward Zablocki, technical director for the Survivability, Targeting and Sensing Solutions business area. “I know our engineers don’t look like artists, but they’re creating things and converting them into something that’s head and shoulders better than the competition.” 

Invention disclosures can lead to patents, trade secrets, and commercial licensing opportunities, all which provide a competitive edge in a demanding market. Through this process, companies are able to protect the rights to its ideas and secure intellectual property.

For ES, the process is nothing new, as it has ranked inside the top 300 among companies for total U.S. patents for 10 straight years. What is different is the pace at which it must file patents to stay competitive. These days, those that are the first to file the patent applications will get the patent right.

“We are facing some fierce competition and it’s only heating up,” said Scott Asmus, ES deputy chief counsel of intellectual property. “But we have innovative people at this company and they are coming up with good designs that are helping disrupt the market.”

While speed to file is becoming standard practice, ES is careful where it places the brush. Nearly one third of its disclosures are for electro-optical/infrared systems and precision-guided munitions. These are key growth markets for the business and many incorporate cyber and autonomy needs right from the start.

Investment in these areas helps ES sharpen its focus on what its customers need the most. Not only do they need products that perform at a peak level, they also need to be smaller, lighter, and cost less than the rest. 

Although, even with the right investment, it all comes down to creativity. Like paint to a canvas, the trick is turning ideas into something that sticks. That’s when you know you have a masterpiece on your hands.

“You can just feel when something is right,” said Zablocki. “That’s when you know it’s going to be awesome.”

Anthony DeAngelis, Communications, Nashua, New Hampshire

Tech Corner

Innovation is more important than ever in Electronic Systems. As the last facet of our HEAT strategy – Tech Disruption – has been supported this year by the renaming of FAST Labs and a growing order book with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, we will devote space in each upcoming issue of Pulse to explore the technology stories spread out across the sector.