Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, applied for the most patents of any Taiwanese entity last year for the eighth consecutive year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said on Tuesday.
Among foreign companies in Taiwan, the ministry said Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea was the top patent applicant in Taiwan last year for the first time.
TSMC filed 1,956 invention patent applications last year, its most ever and 28 percent more than in 2022.
Samsung submitted a new high of 978 patent applications in Taiwan, up 45 percent from a year earlier, data compiled by the ministry’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) showed. All but one were for invention patents.
Under Taiwanese law, patents are categorized into three groups — invention, utility model and design patents — and invention patents are considered the most important in terms of new technologies.
IPO Director-General Liao Cheng-wei (廖承威) said TSMC remained a driving force in the growth of upstream IC design to downstream IC packaging and testing services by maintaining its status as the largest patent applicant in Taiwan.
Liao said TSMC’s and Samsung’s efforts in boosting their patent portfolios show that Taiwan has become a hub for the global semiconductor industry.
After TSMC, smartphone IC designer MediaTek Inc (聯發科) came in second among Taiwanese applicants, with 544 applications, up 32 percent from 2022.
It was followed by flat-panel maker AUO Corp (友達) with 460 applications, PC brand Acer Inc (宏碁) with 419 and DRAM supplier Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技) with 373.
Contract notebook computer maker Inventec Corp (英業達) took sixth place with 330 patent applications, followed by flat-panel maker Innolux Corp (群創) with 326.
Rounding out the top 10 were the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute (工研院) with 315 applications, communication network IC designer Realtek Semiconductor Corp (瑞昱) with 271, and power management solutions provider Delta Electronics Inc (台達電) with 270.
After Samsung, US semiconductor equipment supplier Applied Materials Inc was the second-largest foreign patent applicant in Taiwan last year with 779 applications, ahead of US-based smartphone IC designer Qualcomm Inc with 639, Japanese semiconductor and display production equipment supplier Tokyo Electron Ltd with 555 and Japanese electrical product maker Nitto Denko Corp with 478.
Rounding out the top 10 foreign applicants were South Korea’s e-commerce operator Coupang Corp with 454 applications, Netherlands-based semiconductor equipment supplier ASML Holding NV with 309, Japan’s Fujifilm Ltd with 285, Japanese semiconductor silicon provider Shin-Etsu Chemical Co with 272 and US wafer fabrication equipment supplier Lam Research Corp with 264.
Liao said the surge in patent applications by Coupang showed the South Korean company’s ambition to penetrate Taiwan’s logistics market.
Last year, patent applications by local companies grew for a seventh consecutive year, by 1 percent to 12,922, while foreign companies filed 14,910 patent applications, up 2 percent from a year earlier, according to the data.
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