Mobile Patents Landscape – 3rd Edition – 2014


The value of Intellectual Property (IP) have been debated since the days of Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. In 1624, The Statute of Monopolies passed as the first statutory expression of English patent law. Patent systems evolved from there and helped lay the foundations of the patent system that we are familiar with today. In any given industry, IP forms the core basis of technology, the competition evolves and its protection becomes paramount to not only its inventors but also to the geographical boundaries of operations.

In a 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. IP 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.

Mobile’s role in transforming industries and countries is being appreciated in every corner of the planet – whether it’s streets of Thimpu or high rises of Hong Kong, whether it is the hustle-bustle of Cupertino or a relaxed afternoon in Paris, mobile forms the connective tissue of the global society. As mobile devices have moved from being a luxury good to becoming an everyday necessity, innovation in various segments of the industry has accelerated the reach and impact of mobile technology worldwide. Mobile is also levelling the playing field, increasing the opportunities for entrepreneurs far and wide. A dreamer in Nairobi has as good a shot at success as anyone else in the west.

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’s is at the top in terms of growth rate. In 2013, China’s patent applications grew 15.6% compared to the US at 10.8%. Amongst the top 5 filers in 2013, ZTE and Huawei are from China.

According to the US Patent Office (USPTO), in 2013, the number of patents granted grew over 62% 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.

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 449% increase while the European market saw a 105% increase in mobile related patent grants.

Another interesting fact is that in 2013, roughly quarter of all patents granted in the US were 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 third in the series that does an in-depth quantitative analysis of the mobile patents landscape.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma