Apple is 11th most creative global company, questionable analysis says

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 5
While California is the top U.S. state for patents, Apple ranks behind IBM, Samsung and Intel in total patents issued last year according to a study and is therefore less innovative -- but the examination is using questionable metrics to make that conclusion.

iPhone X


In honor of the awarding of the 10 millionth patent in June, an industrial equipment firm called Kempler Industries has released a set of statistics on the best places and companies for patent innovation. Apple ranks surprisingly low, but that's likely due to a methodology that values all patents issued equally.

According to the study, called Innovation Around the World: Where Patents Come to Life, California is #1 on the list of U.S. states with the highest number of patents per capita in the last five years, followed by Massachusetts, Washington and Minnesota. Last on the list is Mississippi, followed by Alaska and West Virginia. In terms of countries' patents per capita, also in the last five years, the U.S. is third, behind Taiwan and Israel.




In terms of "the most creative companies" -- defined by Kempler as the companies that were issued the most patents in the year 2017 -- Apple comes in 11th. IBM is first, with Apple suppliers Intel, LG, Qualcomm, and TSMC all ranking ahead of it. Samsung is also ahead of Apple on the rankings twice, listed as both Samsung and Samsung Electronics.

The sheer volume of patents granted to a company isn't a particularly useful way of ranking that company's level of innovation or creativity. Not all patents are of equal value or impact, and not all, or even most of them, even end up as part of products.

Also, a spot check performed by AppleInsider found a significant volume of the patents issued to IBM and other firms covering the same invention, with minor permutations of the titles and contents to differentiate the inventions.

The study does not assess the utility of the patents, nor their use in shipping products.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,223member
    I think in Edison's days counting patent probably had a direct correlation on how creative/innovative a company or person may be. Today I am not sue this is good metric since most patent never see the light of day as product. and many are just an improvement on what was done before. not something completely new.
    pscooter63Carnagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    As owner of several patents, and having consulted on patent issues for some years, I'm of the opinion that patent count means approximately nothing. The best ideas are protected by keeping them secret. For a small company with a great idea, one method of protection is to shop the idea around to potential competitors, under NDA, if they'll accept that. An NDA is much more easily defended than a patent.

    And patents are like fence posts around an idea. You're pretty vulnerable if you're protecting your stuff with a single fencepost. Patents are expensive to get, so patent count may well be a better measure of wealth and attitudes towards patents than creativity.
    edited September 5 radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,276member
    Number of patents = innovation? Wouldn't that make those non-practicing patient trolls that sue Apple all the time the top dogs of innovation? No?

    Analysts spending their dreary days dreaming up ways to measure businesses so they can put a nice ribbon on everything and present it to investors as something important? Or maybe just spinning things to deliver the goods to their sponsors? Take your pick.
    edited September 5 radarthekatStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,579member
    lkrupp said:
    Number of patents = innovation? Wouldn't that make those non-practicing patient trolls that sue Apple all the time the top dogs of innovation? No?

    Analysts spending their dreary days dreaming up ways to measure businesses so they can put a nice ribbon on everything and present it to investors as something important? Or maybe just spinning things to deliver the goods to their sponsors? Take your pick.
    Those non-practicing patent trolls mostly buy the rights to existing patents, some maybe newly issued, others probably older.  The study counts patents issued to the companies in a given period, I suppose a year.  You see the difference?
  • Reply 5 of 12
    FolioFolio Posts: 368member
    For sure it's very inexact measure of innovation. Yet interesting tidbits. You see tech utter dominance over automotive and industrial (especially compared to prior decades). You see Amazon distinguishing itself, no Walmart. Ditto Google, no Facebook. And as nations go, half of Korea shows three in the Top 10.
    IreneW
  • Reply 6 of 12
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 110member
    Agreed, this may not be a particularly good measurement of creativity, but it is good to see most of the expected companies in the top 20. As for which patents are valuable or not, this is snyone's guess. I'll bet on Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm, in that order, for the IoT infrastructure. Samsung Electronics and TSMC for manufacturing. SW patents are a lot harder to defend.
    avon b7
  • Reply 7 of 12
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,276member
    tundraboy said:
    lkrupp said:
    Number of patents = innovation? Wouldn't that make those non-practicing patient trolls that sue Apple all the time the top dogs of innovation? No?

    Analysts spending their dreary days dreaming up ways to measure businesses so they can put a nice ribbon on everything and present it to investors as something important? Or maybe just spinning things to deliver the goods to their sponsors? Take your pick.
    Those non-practicing patent trolls mostly buy the rights to existing patents, some maybe newly issued, others probably older.  The study counts patents issued to the companies in a given period, I suppose a year.  You see the difference?
    I was being ironical. Do you see the difference?
  • Reply 8 of 12
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,719member
    lkrupp said:
    Number of patents = innovation? Wouldn't that make those non-practicing patient trolls that sue Apple all the time the top dogs of innovation? No?

    Analysts spending their dreary days dreaming up ways to measure businesses so they can put a nice ribbon on everything and present it to investors as something important? Or maybe just spinning things to deliver the goods to their sponsors? Take your pick.
    The fairest measure is counting the number of patents that have actually been implemented in a commercial product. 
  • Reply 9 of 12
    So the rank is based on the quantity patents, not quality. I guess it's easy to rank #1 by just changing the colour or the shape of the design and name them patent #10001, #10002, #10003, etc.
    edited September 5 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    I always thought people were creative but I guess corporations are "people too" these days, this whole thing is ridiculous. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,023member
    IreneW said:
    Agreed, this may not be a particularly good measurement of creativity, but it is good to see most of the expected companies in the top 20. As for which patents are valuable or not, this is snyone's guess. I'll bet on Ericsson, Huawei and Qualcomm, in that order, for the IoT infrastructure. Samsung Electronics and TSMC for manufacturing. SW patents are a lot harder to defend.
    There are "power" rankings of patent portfolios. This one from IEEE, who would qualify as knowing a little sump'n about it, ranks Amazon as the overall #1 (easily), followed by Google, and only slightly behind them Apple.

    A big fall-off after that with Western Digital, Ford, Qualcomm, Intel, TSMC, Microsoft, and Medtronic rounding out the top 10.
    https://spectrum.ieee.org/static/interactive-patent-power-2017
  • Reply 12 of 12
    bsimpsen said:
    As owner of several patents, and having consulted on patent issues for some years, I'm of the opinion that patent count means approximately nothing. The best ideas are protected by keeping them secret. For a small company with a great idea, one method of protection is to shop the idea around to potential competitors, under NDA, if they'll accept that. An NDA is much more easily defended than a patent.

    And patents are like fence posts around an idea. You're pretty vulnerable if you're protecting your stuff with a single fencepost. Patents are expensive to get, so patent count may well be a better measure of wealth and attitudes towards patents than creativity.
    Yeah that is an approach to protecting an idea. There were a few people who tried to pull this on Apple and then tried suing later claiming they previous shared the idea with Apple. I think most of them lost their case. This is why the company I worked for would never agree to sign a third party NDA. We were only allow to signed our own NDA with a third part and if they refused the conversation never starts.

    I also worked for a company who use to copy protect software code and also copy protect the artwork for logic board layouts and chip designs. Not sure how well that works but the idea was copyright protections last a lot longer than patent.
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