NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / November 3, 2022 / Qualcomm
By Kirti Gupta, VP, Technology & Economic Strategy, Qualcomm Incorporated
I recently moderated an expert panel hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): US Technological Leadership and Patents: What Can the Data Tell Us? The conversation explored how the geopolitical struggle for leadership in critical technologies such as 5G, AI, biotechnology and quantum computing has led to media coverage and the use and misuse of data to attempt to play with which country or company owns the R&D Race in another leading technologies. The event explored how stakeholders, policymakers and the public can better interpret patent data and evaluate claims that often appear in coverage of the subject.
The event was attended by a variety of experts including former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Mark Cohen, Director and Distinguished Senior Fellow, Berkeley Center of Law and Technology, Dr. Jonathan Putnam, CEO of Competition Dynamics, and Dr. Tim Pohlmann, CEO of IPlytics.
Director Iancu opened the panel with a reflection on the 20th century space race, which accelerated the significant mobilization of resources necessary to retake leadership in space and thereby retake our country’s technological leadership on the world stage. He reminded us that while the United States is now in another “Sputnik moment,” well positioned to win the global race for leadership in 5G, AI and other emerging technologies, the United States is one implement a robust innovation strategy to win this race.
Fundamental to determining the lead in this race is our ability to intelligently analyze the vast amounts of data surrounding innovations in 5G, AI and other emerging technologies. Recently, media coverage of the geopolitical competition for technological leadership has erroneously relied on flawed methods of valuing patent portfolios. There has been too much emphasis on counting the number of patents in a given portfolio. Without further context, the patent count cannot capture the true value of a patent portfolio. Simply put, not all patents are created equal, just as all ideas are not created equal. In fact, they show a huge fluctuation in value. If “Company A” has more patents in a particular technology than “Company B” does not necessarily mean that Company A has a stronger patent portfolio in that technology.
Unfortunately, for outsiders, the patent count provides the easiest way to assess technological competition, often with misleading interpretations.
In February 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a study analyzing the portfolios of companies developing 5G technologies. While the media has often resorted to portraying a single company as the leader in patenting 5G technologies, the USPTO report concluded that “the results indicate that there is ongoing competition between six 5G companies in the patenting process.” Patenting exists, despite media claims that a single company could be the leader. Given the complexity of the findings, caution is advised when reviewing media claims of 5G dominance.”
The study came to this conclusion by comparing the quality of patents in each company’s portfolio, rather than just the quantity. For example, the study found that although a Chinese company filed the most 5G-related patent families, Qualcomm Incorporated filed the most in triadic patent families (i.e., those filed in the United States, European Union, and Japan). The study also considered other indicators of patent portfolio strength, including legal breadth, radicality (i.e. fewer references to prior art against an application during prosecution), technical relevance and more.
The panel of experts unanimously concluded that while drawing conclusions about technology leadership based on patent data is appealing, it is an exercise fraught with misleading potential. True leadership is known to come from quality, not quantity.
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