Last year there was a rather conspicuous company missing from the Thomson Reuters "Top 100 Global Innovators" list. Google, the patent powerhouse, hadn't made the list to the surprise of many in the tech and business communities. This year, thanks to a major ramp up in patent production, Google has made their way back into the good graces of the Reuters research team and found themselves once again among companies like Apple, Boeing, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
It's important to note that the Thomson Reuters list is not enumerated, but instead the companies are simply listed in alphabetical order, so there's no clear way to determine what company beat out another for a better position. Companies from around the globe are considered, researched, analyzed and finally judged for their worthiness based on four primary measurements: Patent Volume, Global Reach of Patents, Citations of Patents, and Patent Grant Success Rate. These measurements and analysis allow the researchers to determine how active the company is with global development in their particular field.
Companies from the United States accounted for 47 of the choices, with Japan trailing next with 25 selections. Other well represented nations include France, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland. Falling off the list were companies from Liechtenstein and the Netherlands, while Belgium made their first appearance. The major player not mentioned is China, who did not manage to get a single company onto the list. The analysts confront this problem by stating:
Although China leads the world in patent volume, its inventions have not been marketed globally. As China expands the protection of its inventions, an indicator of their global significance, we expect to see Chinese companies/institutions make and increase in number on the list.
Regarding the dropping off from the list by some European nations, the analysts were quick to note that this does not mean that innovation is slowing in these countries. Rather, many of these companies actually increased their patent production year-over-year, but it simply wasn't by a large enough amount to compete with the newcomers.
Another important aspect of the analysis, particularly with Google, is that the researchers were looking specifically at in-house patents, and not those generated through the purchase of another company or through the leasing of patents. The report makes note of the fact that in May 2011 Google purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, and that none of the patents gained through this acquisition were considered as part of the analysis. Reuters also discussed the ongoing patent disputes between many of the major telecom and mobile device manufacturers, specifically Apple vs. Samsung and the role they are playing in determining the future of patent development. Three recent patent cases have topped $1 billion, and they are a testament to their importance in the field.
Managing director of intellectual property research at Thomson Reuters, David Brown, commented on the ongoing issues:
"Patents are weapons in the smartphone patent wars," Mr. Brown said. "But smartphones are also composites of many innovations, and the pace of innovation is only accelerating."
Directly helping Google make the list year were its increase in in-house patent production, and its extremely high patent granting percentage. Google manages to get up to 45-percent of their submissions patented, which is an amazing feat considering the level of red-tape that a company must wade through to complete the patent process. The current backlog may mean that some companies wait as much as three years for a patent ruling.
Source: Thomson Reuters