CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration)'s research wing - Intellectual Property Development & Research Center released a report on global 5G standard essential patents (SEPs) on June 6 - the 3rd anniversary of China's issuance of 5G commercial licenses. According to the report, more than 210,000 5G SEPs are currently declared worldwide, involving nearly 47,000 patent families. Both China (accounting for nearly 40% of the total) and its applicant Huawei (14%) lead the world in their respective country and applicant categories with 18,000+ and 6,500+ declared patent families. After decades of progression in 1G-4G technologies, China has evolved from a nobody (1G) to follower (2G) to quick learner (3G) to peer (4G) and to today's position of a frontrunner (5G).
Owing to the mobile communication industry's international nature, SEPs are the must-get objectives for any player joining the global competition. In addition, the current 5G communication standards-R15, R16 and R17 have all been 'frozen' with all SEP portfolios in locked positions. Under such circumstances, China's leading role in SEP declarations will show its power in cultivating competitive advantages in the 5G era.
The report shows that 217,749 SEPs for 5G have been declared globally, involving a total of 46,879 patent families. The top five owners of these patent families are China (18,728, 39.9% of the total), the United States (16,206, 34.6%), the Republic of Korea (4,293, 9.2%), Japan (3,736, 8%) and Europe (1,833, 3.9%). The top 2 (China and U.S.) takes up while the top 5 is in possession of a whopping 95.5%.
According to the report, the top three destinations for the deployment of 5G SEP portfolios are the U.S. (46,123), China (39,224) and Europe (30,704), accounting for 21.2%, 18% and 14.1% respectively. This means that these three countries/regions are also the most crucial target markets for 5G SEPs.
Among the global applicants for 5G SEPs, Chinese tech giant Huawei ranks first with 6,583 patent families (14%). In terms of the number of patent families filed by applicants in the U.S., China and Europe, Huawei makes the sweep in all three places as well, followed by Qualcomm, Samsung, LG and OPPO. It is worth mentioning that China takes up 7 berths among the world's top 15 patent applicants, with the U.S., Japan, Europe and Korea sharing two each.
In addition, the report also analyzes the technical directions related to 5G SEPs. According to the statistics of 3GPP technical specifications involved in the declared 5G SEPs, the top six technical directions are radio resource management (21,968, 46.9%), access technology (6,445, 13.7%), multi-carrier transmission (4,675, 10%), channel coding (4,037, 8.6%), core network (3,805, 8.1%), and next-generation access network (1,185, 2.5%). The number of 5G SEPs of the above six technical directions accounts for 89.8%. Among them, radio resource management, as the basic technology in the communication field, is still the most important direction for 5G SEPs.