Huawei regains top position in patent statistics

Munich, Dusseldorf Initially, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei appeared uncertain when he appeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. The 75-year-old sat motionless on his chair with his hands folded. But when he spoke about the allegations of the US government that his technology company was helping the Chinese government with cyber espionage, he quickly picked up speed.

“The US will expand its attacks against us this year. But that won’t bother us much, ”he said. He invested his entire wealth in research and development of products for Huawei. This is part of Huawei’s central strategy and has helped the group even in difficult phases. The company is now well positioned to withstand further attacks by the USA.

Now it becomes clear why the Huawei founder in Davos was so self-confident. Because of the sanctions of the US government, which Huawei put on the black list, the Chinese were cut off by many suppliers. But the company invested heavily in its own development and research in order to become more independent of supply chains.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the European patent statistics published this Thursday. Huawei took back the top spot last year. The Chinese company registered 3,524 inventions with the European Patent Office (EPO).

With this, Huawei clearly demonstrated Samsung, which registered 2,858 patents. Siemens, still in first place in 2018, the number of registrations increased to 2619, but ended up as the best German company only in fifth place.


Huawei had first place in Europe for patent applications in 2017. This showed that Chinese companies are using technological innovations to penetrate the world markets more and more. This trend continued in the past year. The number of patent applications from China rose again by more than 29 percent. A large number of patents recently related to the topics of artificial intelligence and 5G.

Huawei is considered the leading provider of 5G equipment worldwide. The next mobile radio standard is particularly interesting for the industry, which wants to use it to network their production. Technology from Huawei is already in all three German mobile phone networks. Both the Deutsche Telekom as well as Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland (brand O2) rely heavily on Huawei.

Increase in registration numbers

Siemens takes the slide down to fifth place athletically. “We were able to increase our patent applications again by five percent and are again by far the largest European patent applicant,” said Siemens patent chief Beat Weibel the Handelsblatt. This makes Siemens “one of the most innovative companies in digital technologies and artificial intelligence”. In addition, Siemens pays attention “less to quantity, but to quality and the broad regional positioning of our property rights”.

Nevertheless, Huawei has achieved a prestige success. The Chinese technology group has spent a large part of its sales on research and development for many years. In 2018, the volume was $ 15.3 billion, or 14 percent of sales.

In absolute terms, Huawei was one of the world’s leading companies in terms of development spending. Just stood in front of Huawei Amazon, the GoogleParent company alphabet and Samsung. Companies such as Microsoft, Volkswagen and Apple. There are still no final figures for 2019.

Overall, the EPO recorded a four percent increase in patent applications last year to 181,400 inventions for the first time. The growth was particularly strong with an increase of almost 20 percent in the area of ​​digital communication. This rapid growth is “the outstanding trend,” said EPO President António Campinos. “The rapid increase clearly reflects the digital transformation of the economy.”

Patent applications by German companies stagnated at 26,805 last year. Siemens has been one of the most active patent applicants for many years. The automotive supplier Robert Bosch, however, recorded an increase of 16 percent and worked its way to tenth place as the second best German company. Follow in the ranking of the largest EPO applicants from Germany BASF, Continental and the Fraunhofer Society.

German companies are well positioned on important future issues. Siemens is among the top five in the areas of machine learning and pattern recognition, image data processing and generation, and data retrieval. Bosch takes second place in machine learning and pattern recognition.

More: Germany is losing touch with innovations


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