The NBA Looks To Join the Hawk-Eye Club

As sports technology becomes more and more sophisticated, it looks to be approaching a crucial point that is met with hope for some sports fans and dread for others. The times of automated officiating are quickly approaching sports of all sizes as imaging and telemetry technology become more accurate and more accessible than ever before. As far as who is leading the charge into automated officiating, the answer is undoubtedly the Sony subsidiary Hawk-Eye. Whether it be line calls in tennis or goals in soccer, Hawk-Eye is honing in on one taking the subjectivity out of every aspect of sports, leaving no sport untouched. Its next target, basketball.

In November 2021, Hawk-Eye began negotiation with the NBA to begin incorporating Hawk-Eye sensors in NBA stadiums nationwide. The goal of the project would be to use the sensors to put an end to the controversial calls in basketball currently left up to the referees. Now, what calls could those be? While it doesn’t sound like they’re close to calling reach-ins or charge vs. block calls, the NBA and Hawk-Eye are first starting their focus on the famous “who touched it before it went out of bounds” arguments that have plagued schoolyards nationwide and the slightly rarer, but no less controversial, goaltending calls.

This marks another incredible forward-looking achievement for Hawk-Eye if it manages to land this partnership, but as we have been asking for months: where are the patents? Well, while Hawk-Eye might have a shaky patent past, things might be looking up as it already had two applications publish in 2021. However, it still lacks patents relating to applications of the technology. To get the most out of your patent portfolio, it is usually helpful to protect both the base technology and applications of the technology to make it almost impossible for competitors to design around your innovation. 

See if Hawk-Eye beefs up its portfolio in the future by following the Sports Analytics Patent Forecast®