Mobile Patents Landscape – 2nd Edition – 2013

Mobile Patents Landscape – 2nd Edition – 2013


The first recorded reference to patents seems to be in Aristotle’s Politics, composed in the fourth century B.C. However, the first regular administrative apparatus for granting patents – the first patent “system” arose in Venice in the late fifteenth century. As the trade opened up in Europe, the concept of patents spread and reached Great Britain and helped lay the foundations of the modern patent system.

Intellectual Property is the backbone of today’s knowledge economy. The very competitiveness and durability of the nation’s economy depends on how well the framework of IP and patents works in the country and the steps it takes to avoid theft and misuse of the laws while enforcing the rules and regulations on the books. Intellectual property has been an integral part of the economic engine of the western world for many decades if not centuries. Over the past two decades, nations and corporations have competed on the creation, funding, execution, and protection of the new ideas.

Increasingly, the role of mobile devices, networks, and applications has become an important component of the growth story worldwide. Mobile is playing a central role in all of the trillion dollar industries whether it is healthcare or retail, energy or entertainment, transportation or hospitality, enterprise or consumer. Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in investment and innovation in mobile related technologies that can power the larger economies of nations. As the penetration of mobile devices increases in any given nation, so does the GDP. As more consumers adopt smartphones, the access to information spawns a thousand new entrepreneurs from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg, from Seattle to New Delhi, and from Beijing to Santiago.

All the innovation and economic activity has also increased the patent activity around the world. While US, Europe, and Japan remain the overall leaders in patents both in quantity and quality, China surpassed the US for the first time in the total patents granted in 2011. China’s growth rate in patents was 22% that year compared to 3.8% for the world and 3.3% for the US.

According to the US Patent Office (USPTO), in 2012, the number of applications grew over 61% from a decade ago. Similarly, the number of patents granted grew over 50%by the end of 2012 for the same time period. The numbers of foreign filings are now in the majority for both the applications filed as well as the patents granted. In Europe, similar trends were observed where the EPO (European Patent Office) patent grants increased by 23%.

As we look into the mobile related patents, the growth is much more striking. The number of mobile related patents that were granted by the USPTO and the EPO increased significantly over the course of last decade. The US market saw a 591% increase while the European market saw a 76% increase in mobile related patent grants.

Another interesting fact is that in 2013, we expect roughly quarter of all patents granted in the US will be mobile related. This grew from around 2% in 1991 and 5% in 2001. In Europe, roughly 10% of the patents granted are now related to mobile.

Chetan Sharma Consulting analyzed over 7 million patents granted by the USPTO and EPO over the last two decades to understand how mobile has become a key enabler for all technology companies. Furthermore, we looked at patent granted to the top 65 technology companies who are active in the mobile space to understand their relative strengths and weaknesses in the mobile patents landscape. This study is second in the series that does an in-depth quantitative analysis of the mobile patents landscape.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma