Kagan: Qualcomm leads in wireless patent quality
There is a battle being fought in the wireless industry between patent quality and quantity. The confusion lies in the fact that the two leaders, Qualcomm and Huawei are presenting their side in a way that makes each look like the leader. This is important to understand for investors, customers and the industry in general. So, let’s take a closer look at this question and try to clear it up.
After listening to both sides, reading reports and articles on the matter of patent quality vs. quantity, it looks like Huawei has the most patents, and Qualcomm has the most important or quality patents.
This should be simple to understand. However, the problem in understanding comes when Huawei touts their patent position compared to Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson and other wireless and 5G players. They look at quantity.
Qualcomm is leader in patent quality; Huawei is leader in patent quantity
I attended Huawei briefings and they say directly they are the world-wide leader in the number of wireless patents. And while that is true, it is less important than whether they are a leader in important or quality patents.
On that question, Qualcomm is the leader.
So, this really boils down to a public relations battle that Huawei is waging. They are trying to make it sound like they are the world-wide leader in wireless patents.
However, quantity is not quality. There is a difference. And quality is more important than quantity.
There is a difference between patent quality and patent quantity
I agree with Huawei that they are an important wireless competitor on the global marketplace. Companies like Huawei, Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, Nokia and others are all important players.
I also agree with Huawei that they have the most wireless patents.
Where it gets a little fuzzy is when they claim they are the leader wireless patents. They do not say whether they are talking quantity or quality and that confuses everything.
I have also attended Qualcomm briefings, and they are just as strong in the fact that they hold the most important or quality patents.
Why wireless patent quality is more important than quantity
To better understand, let’s think about this from another perspective. Consider your automobile. Which is more important, a patent for safety or reliability or performance, or one for the color or long-lasting quality of the paint? While both are important, if you were to think about it, there is no contest.
Huawei has been on a tear in recent years filing as many patents as they could. Did they do this so they could make the claim they hold the most wireless patents?
And while that is true, many of these Huawei patents are like the color of paint on a car compared to more important factors like safety, reliability and performance.
If that is the case, we need to keep our eyes on the most important facts. Wireless patent quantity sounds impressive, but in reality, it is patent quality that matters most.
When we look at this latest wireless industry patent battle, quality is more important than quantity. So, while Huawei surely deserves a place at the top of the list of wireless companies, they are not the leader in patent quality. That honor goes to Qualcomm.
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