Samsung again led the way in mobile patents granted last year, topping other tech heavyweights including IBM, Qualcomm, BlackBerry, Sony and Microsoft.
The finding, from a new study by mobile consultant Chetan Sharma, is based on an analysis of 7 million patent grants in the U.S. and Europe spanning 65 countries.
AT&T made the top 10 list for mobile patents in 2013 for the first time, while Nokia dropped out -- underscoring the difficulty the Finnish device maker has faced competing in the smartphone market in recent years. Google (No. 9) also broke into the top 10 for the first time, buoyed by Motorola’s patent portfolio.
Despite the sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo earlier this year, Google maintains ownership of the vast majority of the company’s patent portfolio. Unlike Nokia, BlackBerry continues to have a healthy rate for new patents, coming in at No. 4 last year.
iPhone-maker Apple doesn’t figure in the top 10 for mobile patents, but is currently engaged in its latest patent-infringement trial against Samsung, seeking $2.19 billion in damages.
The Sharma report, “The Mobile Patent Landscape 2014,” noted that fully a quarter of the patents awarded in 2013 were mobile, up from only 5% in 2001. In Europe, about 10% of the patents granted are now mobile. But between the two jurisdictions, the U.S. accounts for roughly three-quarters of the patents granted.
U.S. companies account for half of the top 50, followed by Japan (14%), and China (8%). (Europe collectively represented 14%.) Highlighting the growth of phone makers like ZTE and Huawei, China saw the biggest growth in patent applications filed, at 15.6% compared to 10.8% in the U.S.
IBM was the top filer of mobile patents in the U.S. in 2013, followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Sony and Qualcomm. The report also noted that the number of patents filed by Facebook more than tripled (up 177%), highlighting the social network’s increasing focus on mobile apps and advertising in the last couple of years.