Patent Power 2017

New competitors—and a new industry—mix up the scorecards

2 min read
Illustration: iStockphoto
Illustration: iStockphoto

Two household names—Amazon and eBay—are new additions to this year’s Patent Power Scorecards. It’s not that they hadn’t had valuable patent portfolios previously, but they had been omitted because their primary industry was retailing, which fell outside the tech-sector scope of the scorecards. However, as Amazon has branched out into Web services, its patent portfolio has become increasingly dominated by patents related to technologies such as networking infrastructure, Web transactions, and server hardware. The same is true for eBay, making both companies a natural fit for the Communication/Internet Services scorecard. Indeed, Amazon enters the scorecard straight into first place, knocking Google off the top spot. This makes Amazon the first company ever to rank ahead of Google in the Communication/Internet Services scorecard.

The Solid-State Lighting/Displays scorecard is also new this year. Companies in this scorecard focus on lighting and display applications, including computer displays, LEDs, touch screens, and flexible lighting solutions for commercial and domestic environments. Cree and Japan Display have the largest patent portfolios in this technology, with the former taking first place in the scorecard. Other companies with smaller high-impact portfolios include Kopin (displays for portable electronics), Elo Touch (touch screens), and Lighting Science Group (LED lighting systems).

Elsewhere, well-known names continue to lead the way, with IBM taking top spot in Computer Systems, Microsoft in Computer Software, and Apple in Electronics. Meanwhile, other companies worth keeping an eye on, based on their high-impact smaller patent portfolios, include Sonos (Electronics); Xyleco and Sarepta (Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals); Gentherm (Automotive and Parts); and Kraton (Chemicals).

The Patent Power Scorecards are based on objective, quantitative benchmarking of the patent portfolios of more than 6,000 leading commercial enterprises, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies worldwide. This benchmarking—carried out by 1790 Analytics, based in Haddonfield, N.J.—takes into account not only the size of organizations’ patent portfolios but also their quality, as reflected in characteristics such as growth, impact, originality, and general applicability. The focus on both patent quantity and quality enables companies with smaller high-quality portfolios to fare well against competitors with much larger portfolios. (See “Constructing the Patent Power Scorecard” for a detailed explanation of our methodology.)  

About the Authors

Anthony Breitzman and Patrick Thomas are cofounders of 1790 Analytics. They specialize in technology assessment and intellectual property evaluation, publishing widely on the subjects and working with leading commercial, governmental, and financial organizations worldwide.

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