Patexia Insight 63: Fastest Growing Companies by Patents (2014-2018)
The number of U.S. issued patents from 2014 to 2018 grew by 3.6%. In 2014, the U.S. patent office granted a total of 326,038 patents. This number grew to 337,699 in 2018.
However, not all companies enjoyed the same rate of growth. During this five-year period, many companies went out of business, while many new ones were born. At the same time, some of the existing companies had to adjust their filing strategies due to various reasons, including budget constraints or a change in a technological roadmap, which resulted in a drop or increase in their patent counts.
This week, we will identify and examine the fastest growing companies, ranked according to the number of issued patents over the last five years.
Analyzing the activity of the fastest growing companies will provide us with some insights about the technological areas that are going through a growth phase and receiving the greatest amount of capital. It also shows companies, and perhaps countries, which have implemented the right policies to encourage innovation, which will result in economic expansion.
While there are several ways to identify the fastest growing companies, we decided to look at the absolute growth in the number of issued patents from 2014 to 2018. This may exclude some of the smaller companies with large percentages of growth, but most likely, it highlights the companies with the largest growth in terms of dollar amounts in their R&D budgets.
We first identified the top 1,000 companies by the number of granted patents in 2014. Then we measured the absolute change in the number of granted patents for those companies from 2014 to 2018. The following chart shows the top 10 on our list (the bar shows the amount of increase in number of issued patents from 2014 to 2018).
Here are some observations from the chart:
Six out of these 10 companies are non-U.S. based, and all six of the non-U.S. companies are based in east Asia, which shows the shift towards innovation in Asia.
All 10 companies are part of the tech sector, including semiconductor, telecomm, and automotive.
The appearance of Huawei and BOE Technology, two Chinese tech companies among the top 10, reconfirms the shift by the Chinese government to move away from manufacturing and towards innovation (i.e., “Made in China 2025” strategic plan). It also shows the investments China is making in semiconductor to become independent.
While semiconductor and telecomm have been among the most innovative sectors over the last couple of decades, an expansion in the Hyundai and Ford patent portfolios is a sign that the Automotive industry is receiving more R&D money and is gearing up for a major evolution (or perhaps a revolution) over the next decade. (Electric cars, ride-sharing, or driverless technology are some of the drivers of this upcoming change.)
Although the chart is informative, looking at the percentage of growth for each of the 10 companies can help us better understand the magnitude of change in these companies’ IP strategies. The following table summarizes the number of granted patents in 2014 and 2018 for each of the above 10 companies as well as their percentages of growth. We also decided to include the number one counsel for each of the companies.
Here are some interesting facts extracted from this table:
BOE Technology, a Chinese semiconductor display company, has grown more than 14-fold in the last five years.
Hyundai and Ford Motor have more than doubled their IP filings over the last five years, which shows the extra investments by them and, in general, automotive companies in new technologies.
Amazon, an eCommerce giant, has also more than doubled its IP filings, which shows its additional investment in new platforms such as AWS, Alexa, and other innovation heavy product lines. It also may indicate the change in the management view of IP and its importance in protecting market share or leveraging it in negotiations with competitors.
Huawei and TSMC, two of the giant tech companies in China and Taiwan, are using Slater Matsil as their number one counsel. The firm had been identified by Patexia as the Best Performing Firm in 2019. This shows that these two companies are constantly measuring performance and working with their counsel to ensure the best outcome.
Given that filing usually happens a few years before the actual product is released, the above grant numbers in 2018 show that these companies had started to change and update their filing strategies a few years ago (e.g., around 2014 or even earlier).
We also looked at the fastest growing companies in terms of percentage. Again, for the purpose of this study, we limited our analysis to only the top 1,000 most active companies in 2014. The following chart shows the top 10 companies by percentage of growth over the last five years.
The first two companies are Chinese tech giants, which again confirms our earlier assessment regarding the shift in the policy of major Chinese tech players to build higher value products. Jaguar Land Rover, owned by Tata Motor, an Indian automotive company, also confirms our earlier view that the automotive industry is making a larger capital investment in R&D.
Back in March, Patexia released its Patent Prosecution Intelligence Report, which included the list of the top 1,000 most active law firms and companies, featuring many metrics related to their performance and activity in an Excel format. The report provided our corporate partners with information to evaluate their current counsel and measure how they stack up to other law firms. Later, we released our online tools as part of our Patexia Concierge Service, which provided not just the reports but direct access to information for more than 15K examiners, 70K attorneys, 20K law firms, and 600K companies.
In the following weeks, we plan to look at the companies with the sharpest decline in the number of issued patents and see what sort of insights we can extract from that analysis. Stay tuned.