SAN FRANCISCO—Apple Inc. has roughly 15,500 patents, about 8.500 of which are U.S. patents, according to a new report detailing the tech giant's patent portfolio.
Apple is named as the assignee of 84 percent of its patents, according to the report, which was published by UBM TechInsights. UBM TechInsights is owned by the same parent company that owns EE Times, UBM plc.
The assignee field is left blank in about 10 percent of Apple's patents, although most appear to be Apple-generated, according to the report. Third-party acquisitions account for just over 5 percent of Apple's patents, while individual investors account for less than 0.5 percent, the report found.
Among Apple's top 25 inventors is co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, according to the report.
"What is interesting to note about the acquisitions is the understanding it provides into the direction Apple is going with the removal of hard drives from all of its systems," said Gordon Holstead, a senior business analyst at UBM TechInsights, in a statement. "This change is already evident in current generations of Apple's iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air series.Apple will probably become the first company to move completely to solid-state solutions."
The report delves into litigation activities that involve Apple with a total of 41 plaintiff cases and 242 defendant cases, UBM TechInsights said. Litigation activities involving Apple have steadily increased since 2008, with 2011 being a record year, the firm said.
The report covers standards—a critical area in trying to understand the patent landscape, UBM TechInsights said. "We identify all patents that Apple has volunteered to be part of the standards, as well as how many times a particular patent has been used in a certain standard" said Holstead. "While none of these patents are used in litigation, it is possible that a follow-up patent could find itself in use in future cases."
Perhaps Apple chooses not to publish themselves as the assignee because they don't wish to make obvious the directions in which they are moving. However, this raises two questions. First, is the Apple assignment recorded in the patent office assignment database? If so, the data can easily be mined there. Second, if Apple is not listed on the patent or in the database, how does UBM know they are Apple patents?
Apple is successful not just because of its phone but it successfully built ecosystem by integrating iTunes. People don't look at patent portfolio when they want to buy a phone, they just look how user friendly the phone is.
Apple has never been the inventor of new technology. They have been great - probably the best company ever to integrate ideas from others and package it into a seamless easy to use manner.
Apple did not invent the mouse of the graphical user interface but they brought it out of a xerox lab and into the mainstream. They did not invent MP3 players but they found a way to make the mp3 players cool and easy to use. They did not invent the touch-screen but they found a way integrate it into a phone.
Not trying to belittle the design innovation at Apple but patents are issued for new non-obvious technologies. Everything in apple products are made by someone else - Apple just does a great job at integrating this technology.
I never see Apple as innovative in the usual IBM, Xerox ways. I know them as making better out of what exists. So, you do not have to worry if Apple has a patent. Most of their patents are like art works in colleges.
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