The twoBirds Pattern team examine the difficulties in charting the leadership of companies in the 5G Standard Essential Patent (SEP) industry, and demonstrate how different assumptions can drastically affect the results

By Matthew Noble, Jane Mutimear, Richard Vary

08-2019

Bird & Bird’s patent intelligence offering, twoBirds Pattern, has experience in evaluating telecommunications patent portfolios in international licensing disputes. We note that a number of reports and news articles published in recent months have claimed to chart which companies own the largest portfolios of 5G SEPs, but that many of those studies are too simplistic and may not provide a full picture of who is in the lead.

In this article, Matthew Noble, Jane Mutimear and Richard Vary examine the difficulties in charting the leadership of companies in the 5G Standard Essential Patent (“SEP”) industry, and demonstrate how different assumptions can drastically affect the results. Our article investigates: the difficulties in making such an assessment; how variable the results are to the underlying assumptions; and, the importance of being transparent when publishing patent portfolio analytics, especially with regard to 5G SEPs.

The results in this article are not intended to provide an accurate or useful assessment of which company is leading 5G: they are intended to demonstrate how sensitive this sort of exercise is to the starting assumptions and to realistic variations in essentiality rates between companies. For example: (i) the essentiality filter applied in various figures is derived from 4G declarations (not 5G declarations) but illustrates the effect on ranking of a variability in essentiality of the magnitude found in practice; and (ii) the data used has been filtered back to 1 October 2018 to match the date of one of the analysts' reports critiqued and to eliminate uneven lag in ETSI's database, but since that date many patents have been and are still being declared as potentially essential to 5G.

This article first appeared in IAM Issue 96, published by Globe Business Media Group.

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