China’s Huawei Technologies was one of the top 10 recipients of U.S. patents in 2019, filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show. The increase in patents received by Chinese companies is a sign that Chinese companies are aggressively pursuing the U.S.’ lead in global technology. In 2019, the telecom company obtained 2,418 patents. Those patents, coupled with the 2,177 new patents issued to display maker BOE Technology, propelled China into becoming the fourth-biggest recipient of U.S. patents. China remains behind the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, but ahead of Germany for the first time, says Fairview Research’s IFI Claims Patent Services.
Larry Cady, a senior analyst with IFI, says that China is growing rapidly, but the country is still way behind the U.S. in terms of patents. IBM retains its title of the top recipient of patents for the 27th year in a row, with a record 9,262 patents. That’s far ahead of Samsung Electronics and Canon. In 2019, the patent office issued 333,530 patents – an all-time high with a 15% jump after a decline in 2018.
Cady also said the increase likely reflects efforts to release a bottleneck over what can qualify for a patent. For instance, IBM’s top areas include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and security. IBM’s patents reflect the work of more than 8,500 inventors from across 45 states and 54 countries.
China’s U.S. Patents: Who’s Ahead Of Huawei
Overall, American and Asian technology companies dominate the list of top recipients. Behind IBM, Samsung, and Canon are Microsoft, Intel, LG Electronics, and Apple. Ford Motor broke into the top 10 last year, and was just ahead of Amazon.com and then Huawei. While their numbers remained small, the fastest-growing patent classifications came from hybrid plants, 3-D printing, the gene-splicing technology known as CRISPR, and cancer therapies.
Most patents issued to Huawei relate to things like high-frequency transmission, which is needed for the next generation of wireless technology, 5G. President Donald Trump’s administration moved to restrict U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei in May. The administration asserts Huawei makes possible spy tools, which is an allegation the company denies.
Largest Holdings Belong To Samsung
While IBM may consistently be the top recipient of patents, its holdings aren’t the largest. That title belongs to South Korea’s Samsung, with Japan’s Canon holding the title of the second-largest corporate owner of patents. The discrepancy exists because IBM doesn’t keep all of its patents. Jason McGee, CTO for IBM Cloud Platform, in a statement reveals that IBM reviews and prunes its patent assets regularly. The company gets rid of the patents that it doesn’t deem strategic.
IBM also announced that it has joined the License on Transfer (LOT) Network, co-founded by Red Hat. IBM bought the Red Hat for $34 billion in 2019. Group members pledge that all network members get a license for any patent that ends up with a patent assertion entity. A patent assertion entity refers to companies that don’t make products but extract royalties from those who do instead. The group protects automakers and retailers that are entering the technology arena.