China, South Korea Surpass U.S. in 4G-LTE Patent Filing Pace; Asia Poised to Lead Global Landscape

November 16, 2017

iRunway, a technology research firm specializing in patent licensing and litigation, has released a global patent landscape report that charts the growth of 4G-LTE technology over the last 20 years. 4G-LTE is the most widely used network for wireless broadband with 1.45 billion users across the world. Asia has 56% of global 4G-LTE patents, followed by the U.S. and Canada with a cumulative 17% of the global 4G-LTE patents. Europe has 14% share. Technology players are focusing on R&D that can scale up current telecommunications infrastructure to provide gigabit speeds with negligible latency, with 4G-LTE technologies providing a key platform for 5G and IoT deployments.

While 4G networks have been under innovation and development for more than two decades, its fastest adoption by the consumer market was witnessed in 2016. iRunway’s research on the 4G-LTE global patent landscape includes an exhaustive analysis of worldwide patent filings in 4G-LTE. The study identified 171,208 global IP assets, a majority of which are registered in the U.S., China and Japan. “The U.S. is a preferred geography for patenting owing to its patent-friendly laws. However, since 2005 China has been scaling up not just in terms of commercial 4G deployment, but also in global patenting. Chinese companies such as Huawei, ZTE and Datang Telecom are marking a strong IP presence. As an addition, Korean companies Samsung and LG Electronics have begun marking their presence in IoT. The large Asian consumer market and the IP of these companies is poised to make Asia the global leader in 4G-LTE patents,” says Animesh Kumar, Chief Solutioning Officer at iRunway.

This report also analyzes the global landscape vis-à-vis trends in the U.S. patent landscape as discussed in an iRunway research report on released in June this year. The comparative analysis reveals interesting trends. For instance, while LG Electronics stands second in the U.S. patent landscape, Samsung takes a clear lead in the global patent list. 

This global research also identified 45,719 standard essential patents (SEPs) declared with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). A comparison of the U.S. trends to the global list revealed that while Samsung was the clear leader in SEPs in the U.S., Qualcomm leads the global list. However, Samsung’s geographically balanced SEP filing trend is likely to find it emerge as a leader in the global 4G-LTE patent landscape. The company filed 83% of its SEPs since 2011 aligned to Release 10 by 3GPP, and it owns 11% of the total global SEPs. Qualcomm, however, has witnessed a decline in its SEPs in Asia. The company owns about 15% of the global 4G-LTE SEPs. 

Asia owns the largest 4G-LTE SEP portfolio with 47% of the declared patents registered here. 17% of the world’s SEPs are registered in China alone. Five of the top 10 SEP owners are from Asia, with only Nokia and Ericsson representing Europe. Europe has 23% of the global SEPs, followed by U.S. with 22%. “The last few years has witnessed an increasing trend of SEP declarations in 4G-LTE and LTE-Advanced technologies. This synergy between 4G and LTE patents, and standards established by 3GPP is playing an important role in steering the industry towards IoT. There is not just a growth in innovation but competitiveness as well which is enhancing the IP value of SEP owners,” says Animesh Kumar.

iRunway also analysed major litigation filed by global players within the U.S. jurisdiction and analysed major global licensing deals. Huawei, which has been busy fighting litigations as a defendant, recently turned plaintiff and filed infringement litigation against Samsung in the U.S. and China, and against T-Mobile in the U.S. T-Mobile and Apple together are fighting nearly 50% of the cases filed against the top five defendants in the U.S. 

While Qualcomm has inked several licensing deals, it is also facing anti-trust charges in China, Taiwan and South Korea. Apple and Qualcomm are locked in litigation in the U.S. and Asia. Evolved Wireless, Unwired Planet, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and T-Mobile are other major players involved in high impact litigation across key geographies.

to purchase the report.


About iRunway

iRunway helps corporations, law firms and universities unlock and protect the value of patents by combining technology expertise with practical business insights to monetize patent portfolios and improve licensing and litigation outcomes. iRunway has offices in Austin, San Jose, Denver and Bangalore (India). For more information about the company’s consulting model and in-depth analysis,
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