It is literally a battlefield of swords and shields in the IT world at the moment. The most important weapon in the war of patents is having patents that become the key to major developments. The global corporations are currently fighting to rise to the top by coming up with powerful patents to gain the edge over others.
Moreover, companies have placed patents as a competitive tool for their businesses, forming a strategy aka “business = research and development = patent rights”. One powerful patent after another is being developed.
It is a time of war; patent rights war, in which the winner will rise in the global market with original technology using patents as their weapon. This column looks into the current situation in the American top 50 companies who have gained patent rights in 2011 to assess the competitiveness of global corporations, and to evaluate the power of patents by analyzing cases such as Apple’s patent network.
Top 50 American Corporations with patents in 2011
IFI(America’s patent database company) announced the top 50 corporations with patents in America of 2011. The total patents were 224,505, 2% increase from the last year. Among the top 10, IBM had 6180 patents, making them number one for 19 years in a row. Second in position was Samsung Electronics with 4894 patents, Canon at third with 2821 patents, Panasonic at fourth position, Toshiba at fifth, Microsoft at sixth, Sony at seventh, Seiko and Epson at eight, Hon Hai Precision Industry as nine, and Hitachi at number 10. Microsoft was third in rank in 2010 but fell to sixth and Intel which used to be at eight now fell to 16th in ranking.
Korean companies among the top fifty were Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics(12th in rank, 1411 patents), Hynix Semiconductors(25th in rank, 935 patents), LG Display(41 in rank, 643 patents), and ETRI(48th in rank, 534 patents).
<TOP 50 Company>
||Hon Hai Precision
The world hot issue in 2011; smart phone patent rights war continues with rigorous fervor between Samsung(patent rights ranking number 2 in America) and Apple(rank 39) right into the new year. The final outcome of this patent war would depend on creating a strong patent portfolio.
Multi-touch patent network of Apple
As mentioned above, to gain top position in this global patent rights war, having and maintaining a creative portfolio of key technological patents is crucial.
The article looked closely at the family tree of Apple’s Multi-touch patent (USP7966578) which stirred up a sensation recently. From this we can see that one patent is surrounded by 200 other patents by the same company. The patent is described as “Portable devices that translate displayed content in response to detected finger gestures” and its special feature is noted as “Multitouch Patent which include N-Finger Translation Gestures”.
<The family tree of patent USP7966578 by Apple>
Apple’s smart phone design patent network
In the lawsuit between Apple and Samsung, Apple claimed an infringement on design patent for smart phone such as USD558757. Below is a chart arranged in chronological and types for the two design patents used by Apple in the litigation, the Backward Citation and Forward Citation. There were 55 design patents related to the two found in the making of the chart.
<Chronological chart for 2 design patents by Apple based on their citations>
LED light special patents by Osram
We looked into the family tree for a special patent regarding LED lighting claimed by Osram against LG/Samsung in their recent lawsuit. Patent USP70787321 was linked to 6 other patents in Osram’s patent family chart. Osram had a firmly established patent network based on one basic patent to other divided or continued applications of it.
<Family chart of patent USP70787321 by Osram>
The competitiveness and survival of patent secured global market
IBM has maintained top position by consistent acquisition of patents and management strategy that is based on their patents for 19 years in America. Their patents are not just for internal use by IBM but also for licensing with other companies to maximize technological fee, a case of open innovation.
As mentioned above, global corporations do not just have one patent in the frontline. Their might comes from the basic patent and the other surrounding improved patents.
Information regarding patents includes former technology status, flow of related technologies, solutions for problems regarding former technologies, and other technological information needed for innovation, but it is also important to analyze the network of patents, the competitor’s patent family status, and citation of patents.
This era is marked with patent battles. It is crucial for the IT industry to find their ways to overcome patent risks in the world market. The acquisition of key patents would most likely to be pivotal in their survival.