The Electronic Times and the Gwanggaeto Patent Research Institute recently analyzed the patent management of Apple, Samsung and Google amongst other tech companies and found that the ongoing litigation between Apple and Samsung has caused most large tech companies to increase the number of patents they own.
The statistics that the Gwanggaeto Patent Research Institute has compiled reads as follows:
In 2008 and 2009, Apple had secured approximately 300 new patents respectively, with that number dramatically rising to 825 in 2010, 866 in 2011 and whopping 1,481 in 2012.
In that same timeframe, Google's yearly total had stood at just 100 or so until 2009 but increased to 384 in 2010, leaping to 3,019 in 2011 and simmering back down to 1,260 in 2012.
As for Samsung, the years 2008 through 2010 acquired approximately 3,000 new patents respectively and then jumped to 4,960 in 2011 and 3,973 last year.
Patents Acquired via Mergers & Acquisitions
The report went on to point out that the very same trend could be found in terms of the number of new patents obtained through M&A. The records showed that Apple had consistently purchased about 100 patents a year until 2009 then saw increased activity in the following years with purchases of 314, 260 and 651 respectively.
In that same timeframe Google and Samsung Electronics bought no less than 2,650 and 1,184 patents each in 2011. The numbers dropped to 443 and 192 in 2012, states the report, "implying that both companies concentrated their purchases before their lawsuits against Apple."
Beyond the main patent war combatants noted above, the study did illustrate that the patent war also caused companies like LG Electronics, Microsoft, IBM, Huawei and Amazon to dramatically increase their respective patent portfolios in 2012.
At the end of the day I found that the study was both interesting and informative. Yet in the big picture, I found that the study's view that the increase in patent activity was solely due to the legal battle between Apple and Samsung-Google to be a faulty position to a certain degree. In 2011, a study showed that 'Patent Trolls' Cost Tech Companies $29 Billion and in a more recent study by Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University, the focus was on patent trolling being out of control. In the end, I think the increase in patent activity is for both reasons, though no matter how you slice it, it's all music to the ears of patent attorneys worldwide.