Huawei ranks No. 5 in U.S. patents in sign of Chinese growth
Huawei Technologies Co. is continuing to move up the list of companies getting the most U.S. patents, according to a new study of patenting activity that shows Chinese firms are increasingly responsible for a greater share of the world's innovation.
Huawei received 2,770 U.S. patents last year, putting it at No. 5 behind perennial top patent-getter International Business Machines Corp. according to the study by Fairview Research's IFI Claims Patent Services.
Huawei's success in obtaining patents comes even as its networking equipment is shut out of the American market and it's been cut off from procuring components needed for its phones by the Biden administration. The U.S. government has accused the Shenzhen-based company of being a security threat, charges that Huawei denies.
Huawei jumped from ninth place in part because of declines by other companies as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 7% fewer patents last year. Samsung Electronics Co., Canon Inc. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rounded out the top five patent recipients.
Chinese companies also dominate when considering global patent ownership, according to the analytics firm. Samsung remains the biggest holder of patented inventions globally. But six Chinese entities, including Huawei and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, hold more patents on inventions than IBM, which ranks No. 8 on that list.
"Everywhere you turn, they seem to be establishing themselves, or seeking to establish themselves, as major players," said IFI Claims Chief Executive Officer Mike Baycroft. "You hear these stories that the Chinese market is going to take over the world. Here, it's starting to become real."
American companies accounted for fewer than half of the 327,329 U.S. patents issued last year. China was No. 4, but its companies are on track to overtake Korea as the third-biggest recipient. Chinese and Swiss companies were the only ones that didn't contribute to the overall decline in U.S. patenting, Baycroft said.
"It's something that's been puzzling all of us," he said. "Is this covid related? We don't know but it's a likely explanation."
Artificial intelligence and machine learning remain the top-growing areas for innovation, with IBM, Samsung, Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. leading the pack.
Telemedicine, new seed varieties and supply chain logistics also are among the fastest-growing areas, based on an analysis of published patent applications over the past five years. Since patent applications are typically confidential for the first 18 months, Baycroft said it's too early to say how much of that is in reaction to the pandemic.
"People are looking to improve this new normal we're living in," he said. "It's inevitable that the influence is there."