Top Non Practicing Entities (NPEs) Holding Patents in 4G LTE
In our last post in the LTE series Top 50 Innovative Companies of 4G LTE, we shared that Qualcomm is one of the top innovators in this space, filing a maximum number of patents in the 4G LTE domain. It was not surprising at all, as the company is already a prominent player in the communication sector.
However, there were some insights that caught us off-guard. For example, finding many Asian organizations clinch a spot in the top 50 while Texas Instrument, which claimed itself an early leader in 4G LTE, at the 50th spot were things that we didn’t expect.
Another interesting thing was to see NPEs such as Thomson Licensing ranking above Philips and Verizon. Though it is understood that the sole purpose of their patenting activities is to hunt licensing opportunities, however, we can’t deny their contribution to push the envelope forward.
Note from the author: We noticed a weird pattern in many 4G patents that we worked on in the past. For most of these patents, we found bang-on prior arts in the concepts of 3G patents. Here’s how we used concepts of 3G to invalidate 4G LTE patents?
Having said that, today’s post is focused on the prominent NPEs that made it to the top 50. Please note that while building the insights we haven’t included patents owned by holding companies of the prominent NPEs.
The 6 prominent NPEs in the domain of 4G LTE that came up on the top are as follows:
1. Electronics & Telecommunications Research Institute
ETRI, for 3 consecutive years, has been ranked at the top spot in the patent evaluation by the US firm IpiQ global. This non-profit government-funded research institute has played a major role in LTE-Advanced. ETRI also announced that its research practices in this domain could increase its growth rate to 40% in 2015 – 2021.
In 2011, ETRI showcased 4G LTE Advance and unveiled a top speed of 700Mbps which was at that time not possible with a normal 4G LTE connection. The institute has 803 patents of 4G LTE in their portfolio which makes it one of the top NPE in the 4G technology.
2. China Academy of Telecommunication Research
China Academy of Telecommunication Research has filed 238 patents in 4G LTE domain. The government’s think tank was established in the 1950s and has accumulated rich experience in telecommunication technologies.
3. Industrial Technology Research Institute
Industrial Technology Research Institute is a non-profit research organization in Taiwan which owns 157 patent of 4G LTE. The Institute has more than 5000 employees of which more than 1200 have PhDs and 3200 have master’s degrees, making it one of the most talent-rich institutes across the globe.
Its major products include smart antenna systems for LTEs and other communication means. Communication and information technology are the backbones of Taiwan’s economy. ITRI, being the largest research organization, plays a crucial role in it.
4. Thomson Licensing
Thomson Licensing is a patent licensing subsidiary of Technicolor, a company that provides a smart solution for video and other communication services. Technicolor is known for its industry-grade equipment for the Internet of things. Some of its products include set-top boxes, 4G LTE modems, gateways, etc.
5. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Foerderung Der Angewandten Forschung EV
The Fraunhofer Society for the advancement of applied research (The Fraunhofer Society) is a German research organization with more than 65 research institutes spread all over the country.
The organization spends more than €2 billion in R&D every year of which 70% comes from contract work for the Government and industry. Among many breakthroughs by the Institute, the patented MP3 compression algorithm which fetched them €100 million in revenue and development of a triple-junction solar cell with highest conversion efficiency is notable.
In 2012, the society introduced LTE spectrum sharing which improves network speeds when several devices are working simultaneously.
The researchers at The Fraunhofer Society also introduced a new video coding method which enabled one to surf high-definition 3D videos on 3G LTE networks.
Related read that you will find interesting: How we are using the concept of GSM and 3G to invalidate 4G patents?
6. Intellectual Ventures
Intellectual Ventures is well known in the IP community for its activities which helped it earn a moniker of the patent troll.
Of late, it has changed its strategy and now focuses on promoting innovation. IV, apart from a patent selling/purchasing entity, has become a company that manufactures the most innovative products such as the waterless washing machine, self-healing concrete, etc. IV collaborated with Nvidia and bought 500 patents some of which were of wireless broadband technology.
All of the above non-practicing entities don’t operate into LTE technologies directly but have a decent patent portfolio at their disposal. ETRI, for example, owns 803 patents and can be a potential licensor for many mainstream 4G companies.
In the next post of the series, we have disclosed the geographical distribution of patents filed in the 4G LTE domain. Not only this, but we have also taken a peek into the portfolio of top ten innovators. You can read the article here: Top 5 universities researching in the 4G LTE
Authored By: Gaurav Sahni, Senior Research Analyst, Prior Art and Shabaz Khan, Senior Analyst, Marketing