Huawei records biggest increase in patent ownership in 2020

Huawei says it recorded its biggest annual increase in the number of patents it holds last year, as the company ramped up research and development efforts to respond to Beijing’s call for local innovation.

The Chinese national champion was blacklisted by the United States in 2019 due to national security concerns, cutting him off access to many essential components and crushing his smartphone sales globally. In the last three months of 2020, its smartphone sales are down 41% compared to the same period of the previous year.

But despite American pressure, Huawei has stepped up its innovation efforts. At the end of 2020, the company had more than 100,000 active patents, up from just over 85,000 active patents at the end of 2019, which is the company’s largest annual increase, said Guo Fulin, media president. Huawei International, to the Financial Times. .

Huawei, which is the largest holder of Chinese patents, owns a large part of its patents in telecommunications equipment, especially in 5G technology, where it dominates the global standard. It has also filed patent applications for CCTV technologies and other forms of artificial intelligence, analysts said.

Huawei’s strategy is in line with Beijing’s urges for greater technological autonomy. Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, said last year that China should “improve our ability to innovate independently and do our own things well because we cannot ask for or buy the technologies. basic elsewhere ”.

Huawei was the main patent applicant with the World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency that reports to the UN. In 2020, it filed 5,464 patents under the Wipo Patent Cooperation Treaty, compared to 3,093 for Samsung of South Korea, which was the second largest applicant. Mitsubishi Electric of Japan, LG Electronics of South Korea and Qualcomm of the United States were also among the main candidates.

Francis Gurry, former chief executive of Wipo, told a Huawei conference on Tuesday that nearly two-thirds of the world’s intellectual property patent applications were initiated by Asian companies, contributing to tensions with the United States. .

“For a long time, there was only North America in the world of innovation and intellectual property, with Japan in the 1980s. It is now a situation of multipolar innovation,” said Gurry.

“That explains some of the tension because when new people come into the schoolyard then big boys and girls. . . that makes it very difficult, ”he added.

At the end of 2020, Huawei had 105,000 R&D employees, or about 53.4% ​​of the company’s total workforce. Its R&D investments totaled 131.7 billion rmb, or 15.3 percent of our annual sales. R&D spending increased in 2020, a company executive said, without giving details.

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