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Asian companies set to rule future patents

On of the biggest PC manufacturers ever in the UK, Elonex, stopped making traditional desktop PCs many moons ago when its founder discovered that he was making significantly more money from patents he owned in/around the modern day email system.While China and the rest of the Far East has become famous for being the world’s factory – the long term future of the region’s finances may well be secured by having more patents than anyone else. KitGuru dons a pair of specs and a white lab coat to investigate.

When you’re not fragging aliens or filing returns, you may well walk away from your PC and expect it to fall asleep. One of the fundamental technologies behind that ability to fall asleep and wake up again later, was a patent held by Elonex. Once VESA set its standard for sleeping and waking, the royalty cheques into Elonex HQ were guaranteed. In a declining local PC market, Elonex’s owners were able to rub their hands together, sit back and watch their bank accounts grow at a phenomenal rate. At one stage, Elonex founder Israel Wetrin was said to have around £45 million in a pile. Nice.

For almost 20 years, IBM has led the world in the registration of patents, but now half of the patents being filed are from companies in the Far East.

Industry insiders know that the copyright tradition in Taiwan and China has been ‘copy is right’. With a few subtle changes, new products are routinely copied from existing designs and shoved out the door as fast as the factory workers can make them.

But the people in the Far East are smart. They have seen the leveling off in global demand for many products and, at the same time, the way that royalty cheques carry on arriving. This has driven a huge spurt of invention.

While Samsung has ‘only’ managed to register 4,894 patents – way behind IBM’s 6,150 – but while IBM increases arond 5% year on year, Samsung managed to increase its stock of intellectual property at 8%.

Many other patent giants have been dropping like flies, with Microsoft down from 3rd to 6th place, while HP and Intel fell out of the Top Ten altogether.

Future production might move to places like India, but the patents are heading further East

KitGuru says: If we roll the clock forward 20 years, will we be seeing a USA population of more than 400 million working 7-day-a-week jobs to satisfy demand from China? Probably not that likely. Interesting times ahead. The possibilities for other major population centres, like India, to take over production will be enormous.

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