Huawei filed the most patent applications last year, but most were not innovative

Huawei filed the most patent applications last year, but most were not innovative
Can you guess which global company had the most patent applications in 2018? Here's a hint; in the U.S. they are considered a national security threat and are not allowed to access its U.S. supply chain. That should narrow it down for you. Yes, that is correct. Huawei submitted 5,405 patent applications lat year and had been at the top of the annual list four out of the past five years. However, just because a company is filing patent applications left and right, it doesn't mean that the patents are for technology or designs that one would consider innovative. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, researchers say that only 21% of Huawei's patent applications last year could be considered in that category.

Tokyo based research firm Patent Result judged the "quality" of patents filed in the states by Huawei and its competitors by looking at things like originality, versatility and the applications of the patent filings being submitted. Then, the patents were ranked based on how far each scored above or below a baseline figure. Applications with a deviation of 55 or higher are considered to be innovative or "high-quality" patents. While only 21% of Huawei's filings were in this category, 44% of chipmaker Qualcomm's 2018 patent applications and 32% belonging to fellow chipmaker Intel were ranked as "high-quality."

Huawei is poaching engineering talent from U.S. firms to the chagrin of the U.S. government

In addition to filing its own patent applications, Huawei has also been opening up its checkbook to buy some intellectual property from companies outside of China. The company has purchased 500 foreign patents with half of these originating from U.S. companies. Many of these patents deal with technology for networking equipment, a business that Huawei is the global leader in. Among U.S. tech companies selling patents to Huawei, IBM (40) and Yahoo (37) are at the top.

Besides buying intellectual property from the U.S., Huawei has been hiring engineers and text experts from other companies and these employees now make up much of its research and development team. Patent Result ranked Huawei's engineers based on Huawei's patents and found that 17 of the outfit's top 30 engineers came from North America. These 17 accounted for 370 high-quality patent applications. The report notes that many of these engineers were snagged from U.S. firms like Motorola (which we should point out is owned by Chinese firm Lenovo). Huawei reportedly is still on the prowl for more North American based talent.

Poaching talent from U.S. firms hasn't exactly given U.S. lawmakers a reason to trust Huawei, already considered a national security threat because of Chinese law that could require the company to gather intelligence on behalf of the communist government. As a result, despite denials by the manufacturer, lawmakers in the states fear that Huawei's phones and networking equipment contain backdoors that send information to Beijing. The Senate is now said to be working on a bill that would give the federal government the ability to block Huawei from purchasing patents from U.S. outfits.

Earlier this year, the U.S. indicted Huawei on 13 criminal counts related to business the company allegedly did with Iran in violation of U.S. economic sanctions. But the criminal activity actually dealt with the subsequent bank fraud that the U.S. Department of Justice claims that Huawei committed in order to cover up these sales. In addition, Huawei is being criminally charged with stealing technology from a phone testing robot named "Tappy"  created by T-Mobile. In a civil case filed by the carrier, it won a judgment ordering Huawei to pay it $4.8 million dollars.

Despite being banned from its U.S. supply chain, Huawei hopes to ship 270 million handsets this year, about 10% less than its original goal of delivering 300 million phones in 2019. Last year Huawei shipped 206 million units.



1. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2474; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Patents on their own do not usually reveal something that we would consider innovative. It’s kind of the idea of the whole big picture is the sum of the parts. And if it’s hardware patents, we won’t know what the corresponding software looks like in order to use it. I will say it’s looking very much like this past year is the beginning of the golden age of Huawei. It’ll remain to be seen how long that lasts. There’s a lot of up and coming competition.

4. meanestgenius

Posts: 22388; Member since: May 28, 2014

Agreed, Dr. Phil. Most don’t even know this.

3. leonho708

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 27, 2019

Alan Friedman, learn how to read a graph before BS and try to make Siri look better. "Siri followed with a 70% score with Alexa (67%) right behind." Alexa & Echo Show both have nearly 80% score, which makes Siri down to 6th, just better than Cortana. And Siri attempted the least questions, just over 40%, way behind every other assistant.

5. Alan01

Posts: 638; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

On that graph, you'll see that Alexa and Alexa on the Echo Show tied. Both are Alexa. Both had the same score. Alan

11. leonho708

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 27, 2019

"Google Assistant on the Google Home smart speaker was next with an 85% accuracy score and Assistant on a Home Hub finished third with a score of 82%." You ranked Google's assistant as 1st-3rd too, I don't see any problems listing Siri as 6th. And the main point is that you read the graph wrong and now you're ignoring the fact that both Alexa have way better % on full and correct answers than Siri. Better stop manipulating the stats and make iSheep high.

7. meanestgenius

Posts: 22388; Member since: May 28, 2014

Despite what this research says, Huawei has been among the most innovative tech companies this year and last year. Their networking equipment is far ahead of the competition, and their smartphones are among the most innovative out today. Most companies haven’t been innovative in quite a while, especially in the smartphone market. As far as poaching goes, every company does that. No big deal.

8. HildyJ

Posts: 341; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

Just for grins I attempted to follow this down the data rathole. WIPO reports that Huawei filed 5405 patents. Patent Result (whose actual report data I couldn't find) says that 21% were innovative yielding an innovative total of 1135. The comparable numbers for Intel are 2499, 32, and 800. Qualcomm's are 2404, 44, and 1058. So even these filtered numbers put Huawei in the lead over Qualcomm with Intel in third. Note that the Nikkei Asian Review is not a technology publication. It is a Japanese business publication similar to the Wall Street Journal and London's Financial Times (which was recently bought by the Nikkei Asian Review).

9. Whitedot

Posts: 857; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

I almost have felling you guys at PA have gun put down your throat every time you write something about Huawei you have to downplay their achievements. Not only that you always mention China communist regime and make it political. But you are not political magazine. You are tech blog. It is so obvious I mean you try so hard.

10. koblongata

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 28, 2019

People can watch only national channels, limited Internet access to the outside world, what do you expect, impossible to innovate.

13. S4NDY

Posts: 263; Member since: Mar 14, 2016

Huawei has worldwide development and research centers, and today Huawei is the most innovative mobile and network technology company in the world

14. koblongata

Posts: 2; Member since: Oct 28, 2019

The lucky few, the rest are the inferior Chinese still under heavy control under poverty line don't know what is going anywhere else in the world.

15. JCASS889

Posts: 594; Member since: May 18, 2018

I would say Qualcomm is more innovative. Especially since they use there technology.

16. Bondurant

Posts: 785; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

US tech industries has been poaching from other nations for years. Why should Chinese tech industries be an exception.

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