Huawei leads the 5G patent race

Legal gavel and smartphone

A recent report aimed to sift through the confusing mess of information around standards essential patents (SEP) and concluded Huawei is the clear leader for 5G.

Research firm GreyB got together with Amplified, which develops software for intellectual property research, to publish a report named ‘Who Owns Core 5G Patents? – A Detailed Analysis of 5G SEPs’. The stated aim of the project is ‘to bring greater transparency to the landscape of 5G standard essential patents.’

The long and short of it is that Huawei is in the lead, and not just by a bit. As you can see in the chart below, Huawei accounts for 19% of core (i.e. actually used in 5G standards) patents, followed by the two Korean tech giants, which are surprisingly ahead of Huawei’s main rivals in this case.

“5G is going to be next disruptive technology,” report co-author Muzammil Hassan of GreyB, told “And going by all the fuss around, it is important to know where each of the top contributors of 5G technology stand in terms of quality of innovation. Some may want to switch gears and file better inventions.”

One other metric GreyB was keen to flag up was ‘essentiality ratio’, which seeks to illustrate the proportion of filed patents that make it into the core standard. Once more, in the chart below, Huawei comes top, but it should be noted that the ratio is derived from only those patents analysed. As a proportion of all declared patents Huawei is among the lowest at 13%, compared to the leader Nokia with 20%. Ericsson is the lowest of all by this metric with 11%.

GreyB originally got in touch with us after reading a story we published, headlined 5G patent chest-beating is an unhelpful distraction. The purpose of the research is an attempt to cut through the noise created by various competing claims and get to the heart of the matter. We have no position one way or the other regarding methodology, etc, but would be happy to host a conversation about the findings in the comments section below

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  1. Avatar Tony Pires 24/06/2020 @ 2:46 pm

    What is the true benefit of having 5G SEPs, do the companies actually get royalties or payment from their competitors for these SEP’s?
    It is no longer clear to me if their is a financial gain/benefit for holding Core Patents.

  2. Avatar nA 24/06/2020 @ 4:49 pm

    If you removed all the 5G essential patents and only used in RAN networks then the chart will drop Huawei, Samsung, LG and Qualcomm. Ericsson does not manufacture consumer devices. You need another chart to show patent related to only running 5G radio base stations as well as 5G mobile operator’s Mobil Core

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 24/06/2020 @ 4:52 pm

      Good point. But isn’t a lot of the 5G IP in a phone owned by Qualcomm?

  3. Avatar Charles S 24/06/2020 @ 11:35 pm

    This article is rather misleading to your readers. Your article should actually break down the 5G patent tallies across the different 5G domains ( Core network , RAN, Transport, Terminals & Devices), that makes it more representative of the current vendor demographics.

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