Samsung became the world champion for patents presented in the United States

For the first time, the Korean company Samsung has applied for the number 1 patent in the United States. If it dethrones IBM, which has dominated the field for three decades, it is because the latter has completely changed its strategy.

Without doing anything new, Samsung became number 1 in US patent applications. For years, the number 2 Korean has maintained its momentum with 8,513 patents. The real change comes from the former number 1 “king”, IBM. A name far from misleading since the thirty years that the American sat on the throne at the head of the table. A sudden 44% reduction in the number of patents filed before publication by 2022.

Also read: IBM and Samsung have developed the transistors of the future (December 2021)

Instead of slowing down, it’s a change in strategy adopted by IBM’s research director Dario Gil in 2020. “ We have decided to stop pursuing most patents, but we remain an intellectual property heavyweight and continue to have one of the largest portfolios. (of patents),” he said at the time.

The area where the decline in the number of patents issued by IBM is most significant is a topic we talk about a lot in our columns: semiconductors. If the category remains important to the American – 3e most importantly, because it accounts for 8.8% of its filed patents – however, IBM has made limited investment in this area in the last two years (it accounted for 13.4% of patents in 2020!). While reading America’s top 20, the rest of the competition is investing heavily in this area.

An in-depth study of semiconductors

Samsung, IBM, LG, TSMC, Huawei, Qualcomm: you all know these companies and they are in the top 10 for 2022. If we add Sony, Intel, Dell, Apple, Micron (not to mention Alphabet and others). chips), the top 20 patent applications are more or less related to semiconductors. This makes perfect sense: tens of billions of dollars in investment plans from Samsung, TSMC and other Intels each year in factories, machinery, products, software, etc. feeds the industry. A competition that ignites a frenzied race for miniaturization where every improvement counts.

In South Korea, TSMC has filed a number of patents around GAAFETs, the transistors of the future. Technically enough to overtake Samsung… or force the latter to check! – Korean Intellectual Property Office

If Samsung is number 1 in patents in the United States, and a good portion of these chips, “transistors of the future” is TSMC, which has the most patents on GAAFETs. In Samsung’s home country of South Korea, the number of patents granted by Taiwan’s TSMC is growing rapidly, far outstripping the rest of the competition. What makes it superior on a technical level. Or to allow the sharpening of other weapons than purely technological competition: the weapons of law and licensing.

Make money and/or shut out the competition

In the arena of CPU and other chip titans, patents are powerful legal weapons. The first use of patents is, of course, to protect thousands of hours of work by engineers. The intellectual property shield stimulates research, which in turn spurs technical progress.

In the context of the technique, in addition to the word “patent trolls” The patent system also takes the form of two other weapons of the giants trying to vampirize their revenues. For China’s Huawei, which is deprived of smartphone sales, it is a matter of making money through the licensing system and thus strengthening its intellectual property.

Also read: 5G: Apple won’t be able to control 2023 iPhones as much as it wants (June 2022)

But patents can also become veritable watchtowers, responsible for slowing or blocking competition. Apple will also bear the brunt of this trapped course in internal modem development. In an area dominated by Qualcomm, Huawei, or Samsung, the smallest development involves checking what already exists, or avoiding licenses or paying for them.

In addition to the brand image attached to the patent holder’s license plate, their presentation is both a safeguard and a foreclosure of competition. While IBM’s No. 1 position was more neutral after retreating from the world of consumer electronics, Samsung’s position is less so. While the Korean faces competition from Chinese manufacturers on all sides (smartphones, TVs, computers, etc.), the accumulation of patents could allow it to toughen its tone, just like IBM and Huawei.



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