When someone says "patent war" or "patent troll" to someone who has followed tech news for any length of time, the conversation will inevitably end up veering towards the infamous Samsung vs. Apple battles. Even before those wars began however, Samsung has apparently been beefing up their patent portfolio, especially in the United States, to prepare for any battles that might emerge. Given that Samsung has recently become embroiled in a legal battle with Huawei over patents, mostly related to 4G LTE network technology, that thick patent portfolio, 38,809 in the U.S. and 110,145 in total as of last year, looks like it just might pay off in a big way.
Before 2007, Samsung's patent portfolio sat at a relatively modest 2,457 in the United States. Its stable of patents has grown steadily and rapidly each year since as they scrambled to protect their phones, smart devices, TVs and chips, as well as protect ideas that may end up as designs for such devices in the future. User interface design elements were also on the list. Out of the total of 5,072 patents obtained by Samsung last year in the U.S., 1,342 of those concerned design in some way or another. Those numbers put Samsung in second place running for the largest patent holder in the United States, right behind IBM.
The reason for Samsung's vast and quick expansion of their patent portfolio is fairly obvious; on top of protecting their own ideas, they are making every possible effort to protect themselves from lawsuits by others. Having been involved in patent lawsuits before, from both legitimate creators and patent trolls, Samsung is no stranger to the whimsy of patent lawsuits. That being the case, their knowledge of the system and of prior cases serves as a pretty good guide for what patents they should pursue and what key technologies and innovations of their own they should protect the most fiercely and file the most patents on. That same expertise also points to the United States as the most likely battleground for patent wars, leading them to devote roughly 35 percent of their global patent portfolio to the U.S. Their strategy likely helped them greatly against Apple, but only time will tell if that same strategy mitigates any possible threat from Huawei or anyone else.