Huawei filed the largest number of European patents in 2019.
According to the European Patent Office, Huawei filed the largest number of patents in Europe, at 3,524. Huawei was ahead of Samsung and LG, who filed 2,858 and 2,817 patents respectively. Qualcomm (1,668), Ericsson (1,616), and Sony (1,512) are other recognizable names that made the top ten patent filings list in Europe.
2019 was a rough year for Huawei. The Chinese OEM saw its Android license revoked in the Trump Ban last May. That meant that Huawei could no longer use Google’s Android software for its devices. Huawei has gotten a few reprieves from the US. These reprieves allow Huawei to buy from American clients and continue updating its Android devices. The company just received its fifth license extension from the US Department of Commerce this week, extending an olive branch until May 15th. At that point, the Commerce Department will consider another possible extension.
With Huawei’s Android license revocation, its patent filings are a sign that the company isn’t slowing down. Even in the face of a national ban, Huawei still has much to research and develop. The OEM is known for its mobile devices such as phones, tablets, laptops, fitness trackers, and smartwatches.
Apart from these, Huawei’s bread-and-butter is the 5G market, as the company always files a good number of patents in cellular technology. Huawei owns 15% of all standards-essential 5G patents globally, giving it more 5G patents than Samsung, LG, and even the US. And the company has already started researching 6G. 6G will usher in an age of holographic interactions with the world.
Shenzhen’s Pride may face more trouble in 2020, though, due to both the US Ban and the coronavirus outbreak. The US Ban remains in effect, and Huawei is launching devices now without Google apps and services. When the Ban was first instituted last summer, Huawei saw mobile sales in Spain and Germany decline by as much as 40-60%. It’s a sobering reminder that European users prize their access to Android apps and Google services. Devices that launch without them are pretty much DOA (dead on arrival).
The coronavirus outbreak won’t help the outlook, either. The disease, which started in Wuhan, China in what many believe to be an animal market, has now spread through China and many countries around the world. An estimated 100,000+ global citizens have been infected with the COVID-19 disease, with over 3,000 deaths worldwide. Many of these 3,000 deaths have occurred in China, Huawei’s home country.
The Chinese market is expected to see significant smartphone sales drop due to the disease. Huawei has a privileged status in Beijing, and it will need those government subsidies to stay afloat during a difficult financial time.
It’s likely the case that some patent filings pertain to Huawei’s Harmony OS, a fledgling operating system that Huawei says will take a few years to rival Google’s Android. The company is not using Harmony OS too widely at this point, though the company has made it open-source to repel suspicion about its espionage activities for the Chinese Government in Beijing.
Huawei is currently paying $1.5 billion towards app development at its AppGallery app store.