Apple's Prolific Patent Portfolio -- (Try saying that 5 times fast)

Mar 09, 2011

Nokia is suing Apple, Apple is suing HTC, Qualcomm is suing Nokia, Elan is suing Apple, Apple and Motorola are suing each other…it’s hard to keep straight who’s suing whom, but one thing is for sure, Apple is in the middle of it. According to Hoovers, “Apple has an "i" for revolutionary technology. Since its release, the company's iPhone has spurred a revolution in cell phones and mobile computing. It also continues to innovate its core Mac desktop and laptop computers -- all of which feature its OS X operating system -- including the iMac all-in-one desktop and MacBook portable for the consumer and education markets, and the high-end Mac Pro and MacBook Pro for consumers and professionals involved in design and publishing. Apple scored a runaway hit with its digital music players (iPod) and online music store (iTunes). Its iPad tablet computer could become another game-changer in the consumer market. Apple gets more than half of its sales from outside the US.” Apple inc. holds over 16,000 patents worldwide, and almost 10,000 patents/filings from the US, DE, GB, FR, JP, PCT or EPO (not including patents not yet assigned). If you reduce those almost 10,000 patents down to just one representative family member, there are just over 4000 patents. Interestingly, of the over 2300 unique (i.e. reduced to one representative family member) US utility or design patents that Apple has, only 30 are, or have been, involved in litigation of some sort.


Shown below is a 2D Bar Chart  of “Patent Count vs Main IPC Class”, and a 2D Bar Chart of the “Patent Count vs Year” for the over 4000 representative family members in the patents/filings from US, DE, GB, FR, JP, PCT or EPO.


2D Bar Chart (Patent count vs. Main IPC class)


Apple Patents vs Main IPC Class resized 600 


 IPC Titles (In order of highest patent count)































IPC (2011.01) G06F


ELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING



IPC (2011.01) G09G


ARRANGEMENTS OR CIRCUITS FOR CONTROL OF INDICATING DEVICES USING STATIC MEANS TO PRESENT VARIABLE INFORMATION



IPC (2011.01) H04N


PICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION



IPC (2011.01) G06T


IMAGE DATA PROCESSING OR GENERATION, IN GENERAL



IPC (2011.01) H04L


TRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION



IPC (2011.01) G06K


RECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS



IPC (2011.01) G10L


SPEECH ANALYSIS OR SYNTHESIS; SPEECH RECOGNITION; AUDIO ANALYSIS OR PROCESSING



IPC (2011.01) H04B


TRANSMISSION




Although Apple’s IP portfolio is fairly broad, the vast majority of their patents reside in IPC G06F, Electric Digital Data Processing.


2D Bar Chart (Patent count vs. Year)


Apple Patents 1994 2011 resized 600


Apple has had an extensive patent portfolio for quite a while, and from 1994-2011 they have really been prolific in the IP realm, especially 2008-2010. Who knows what the rest of 2011 may bring.


- A.S.





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