ZTE dominates European rivals in patent stakes
ZTE filed applications for 3,906 patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2012, 37 percent up on last year and beating Ericsson (1197), Nokia Siemens (326) and Alcatel-Lucent (346). Japan’s Panasonic, ranked second by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), filed 2951 patents, almost one thousand fewer than ZTE, which is now looking at participating in patent pools with other companies.
This is the first time a company from China has topped the table for two successive years, filing more than twice the number of applications of rival Huawei Technologies with 1801 applications.
At the end of 2012, ZTE had filed applications for more than 11,000 PCTs, covering markets including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. More than 60percent of ZTE’s filings were related to new technologies such as 4G/LTE, cloud-computing, the Internet of Things, and smart devices.
“In the past two years, ZTE experienced explosive growth in PCT filings,” said Mr. Guo Xiaoming, Chief Legal Officer at ZTE. “As a relative late-starter, we still have a lot of room to improve in our intellectual property strategy. The tremendous growth in ZTE’s patent applications has been important in safeguarding the development of our operations in Europe and North America.”
It generally takes between two to three years for patents to be granted after applications are filed, and the cost for each patent is over RMB100,000. A company’s portfolio of PCTs represents its most valuable intellectual property. By 2015, it is expected that thousands of ZTE’s PCTs will be granted in Europe and North America. ZTE’s portfolio of PCTs has become a powerful resource as the company’s international operations grow.
Following its international counterparts, ZTE is set to explore avenues such as patent pools and licensing to generate increased value from its rich portfolio of domestic and international patent assets. The company will work with intellectual property exchanges, intermediaries and industry organisations to promote healthy competition and development in the sector.
ZTE increased its R&D spending by 3 percent to 9 billion RMB last year. In the past four years, ZTE has committed more than 30 billion RMB on R&D and has 18 R&D centres globally, employing more than 50,000 engineers and technical staff. ZTE has also set up innovation facilities jointly with internationally leading telecommunications operators to further strengthen its R&D resources. It has filed applications for 48,000 patents globally, with more than 13,000 patents granted. More than 90 percent of ZTE’s patents are invention-related, including a large number of basic patents covering international telecommunications technical standards and core patents covering essential telecommunications technologies.