Tue, Jan 29, 2019 - Page 12 News List

HTC returns to top 10 for local patent applications

TAIWANESE LIST:TSMC was No. 1 for applications among local firms, with AU Optronics second and Acer Inc third, while Hon Hai applications fell to leave it sixth

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

HTC Corp (宏達電) was among the top 10 local firms for patent applications in Taiwan last year for the first time in five years after the smartphone maker branched out into other technologies, the Ministry of Economic Affair’s Intellectual Property Office said yesterday.

Filings by HTC rose 78 percent annually to 185, ninth among Taiwanese companies after being 21st in 2017, Intellectual Property Office data showed.

The result reflects the company’s pursuit of opportunities in the healthcare solutions market by combining artificial intelligence and virtual reality, Intellectual Property Office Director-General Sherry Hong (洪淑敏) told a news conference in Taipei.

Other highlights included IC designer Realtek Semiconductor Corp (瑞昱), which filed 195 patents last year, up 60 percent from the previous year, to rank 10th, Hong said.

Known for its audio IC solutions, Realtek’s filings reflect the company’s efforts to enter the automotive sensors market and self-driving vehicle sector, she said.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) was No. 1 for the third consecutive year with 944 filings, cementing its lead among chipmakers, while AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) and Acer Inc (宏碁) were second and third with 586 and 476 filings respectively as the companies doubled down on PC gaming, she said.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co’s (鴻海) applications fell 49 percent annually to 246 to leave it sixth, as the contract electronics manufacturing giant shifts toward quality over quantity to make better use of patent maintenance fees, Hong said, adding that the company’s investments in the US reduced its need to file patents in Taiwan.

Qualcomm Inc topped the list of foreign companies, filing 1,011, an increase of 67 percent from a year earlier as 5G technologies approach, she said.

It overtook Alibaba Group Services Ltd (阿里巴巴集團服務), as the Chinese e-commerce giant shifts its focus and patent coverage to other Asian markets, Hong said.

Although the patent filings fell 1 percent from a year earlier, invention patents rose 3 percent, the second year of gain, she said.

That is a welcome change, as invention patents — which face claim verification — are more valuable and offer more comprehensive protection, she said.

Hong downplayed concerns about proposed amendments to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法) to introduce a patent linkage system, which might pose obstacles for Taiwanese firms producing generic drugs.

The systems would provide a mechanism for brand-name drugmakers to list their patents, which would have to be challenged before a generic version is approved.

Generic drug makers might face more difficulty, but the mechanism would help resolve potential disputes before firms commit to the immense costs of development, not to mention litigation, Hong said.

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