Amid its long-standing legal tussle with Apple, Samsung Electronics has claimed top spot in the most number of patents filed for smartphones, processors, and smart media.
The Korean handset manufacturer filed 2,179 patents related to mobile telephony, 1,362 in semiconductor materials and processes, and 245 for smart media technologies, according to Thomson Reuter's 2014 State of Innovation Report. In comparison, Apple filed 647 patents in mobile telephony and was ranked fourth among its peers in North America, where Qualcomm led the cohort with 1,383 patents, followed by Research In Motion (now called BlackBerry) with 854, and Intel with 697.
Asia-Pacific market players were among the most active, filling higher more patents than their counterparts in North America and Europe. After Samsung, LG Electronics filed 1,678 patents in mobile telephony, followed by Sony with 1,071, Panasonic at 976, and Sharp at 963.
In Europe, Ericsson filed the highest number of patents in smartphones at 831, followed by Nokia at 549, and Alcatel-Lucent at 321.
Asia-Pacific players in the semiconductor material and processes market also led patent activities with LG a close-second behind Samsung at 1,223 patents filed last year, followed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing at 1,057. In North America, IBM topped its cohort with 1,036 patents filed, followed by Applied Materials at 300, and Micron Technologies at 267. In Europe, Infineon Technologies led the region with 232 patent filings, followed by ST Microelectronics at 196, and OSRAM at 181.
The Thomson Reuters report covered patent activities in 12 technology areas including computing and peripherals, which saw the most filing and accounted for 31 percent of overall volume, telecommunications, domestic appliances, aerospace, and biotechnology. Data was compiled using the company's World Patents index.
It noted "modest changes" in patenting across Asia, where China is transitioning from a production economy to one led by innovation. The Chinese industry is guided by its National Patent Strategy and aims to file 2 million patents each year, with the goal double the number of overseas patent filings by 2015.
According to China's State Intellectual Property Office, the number of patent applications filed in the country climbed 26.3 percent year-on-year in 2013 and was the world's highest volume for the third consecutive year. It overtook the U.S. and Japan for the first time in 2011 when it emerged as the leading patent-filing nation. Of the 825,000 applications filled, some 208,000 were granted including 147,000 filed by local applicants. As of end-2013, China had over 587,000 valid patents held by domestic inventors.
Patent loggerheads Samsung and Apple last month concluded one of several lawsuits when a U.S. jury ruled both companies were guilty of infringing on each other's patents in some aspects, and not guilty in others. By then, the trial had seen about 52 hours of testimony, three hours of opening arguments, and four hours of closings.
A Korea Times report noted that Samsung has committed resources and investment in its patent management, as part of efforts to armor up against further disputes such as those involving Apple. With the Korean company focusing on "innovation" to ensure sustainable and external growth, it has been filing and acquiring patents to avoid potential lawsuits.