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TSMC, Alibaba remain top domestic, foreign patent applicants

2019/11/02 13:33:59

Taipei, Nov. 2 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, retained the title as the largest domestic invention patent applicant in Taiwan in the third quarter of this year, according to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, remained on the top of the foreign invention applicants list for the July-September period, the office cited data as saying.

Under Taiwan's patent law, patents are categorized into three groups -- invention patents, utility model patents and design patents -- with invention patents the most important in terms of the creation of new technical ideas.

In the third quarter, TSMC filed 533 invention patent applications, up 76 percent from a year earlier at a time when the chip manufacturing giant is gearing up to develop high-end technologies, such as advanced 7 nanometer, 5nm and 3nm processes to maintain the lead over its peers.

This was followed by TSMC's announcement late last month that it had reached a 10-year settlement with U.S.-based rival GlobalFoundries Inc. on cross licensing, ending their patent infringement dispute.

GlobalFoundries filed lawsuits against TSMC in the United States and Germany in September, accusing the Taiwanese firm of infringing on its patents. Soon after, TSMC countersued the rival in the U.S., Germany and Singapore.

The settlement had been widely anticipated in the market as TSMC has been ahead of GlobalFoundries in advanced technology processes by 1-2 years.

According to the IPO's data, TSMC filed 944 invention patent applications in Taiwan in 2018, while GlobalFounries filed only 123 applications, which provided evidence of the lead the Taiwanese firm has taken.

In addition, a new research and development center of TSMC is scheduled to break ground next year to house some 8,000 researchers who will help spearhead TSMC's research for the next 20 to 30 years.

Behind TSMC, flat panel maker AU Optronics Corp. filed 120 invention patents applications, up 12 percent from a year earlier to serve as the second largest applicant in the third quarter.

It was followed by integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc. (96 applications, up 16 percent), Realtek Semiconductor Corp., a smaller IC designer (88 applications, up 52 percent), and PC brand Acer Inc. (77 applications, down 6 percent), the data showed.

Contract notebook computer maker Inventec Corp. took sixth place by filing 71 applications in the third quarter, up 163 percent from a year earlier, ahead of memory chip supplier Nanya Technology Corp. (54 applications, up 170 percent), the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute (47 applications, down 27 percent), electronics component maker Polight Technologies Ltd. (39 applications), and Winbond Electronics Corp. another memory chipmaker, (38 applications, up 12 percent).

It was the first time Polight had made it on the top 10 list, the IPO said.

The IPO said Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the world's largest contract electronics maker, dropped out of the top 10 rankings in the third quarter, after holding sixth place in the first half of the year. Hon Hai filed 32 applications in the third quarter, down 37 percent from a year earlier, the IPO added.

The IPO said Hon Hai had paid close attention to the quality of its patents instead of the quantity.

On the foreign companies front, Alibaba filed 315 invention patent applications in the third quarter, up 139 percent from a year earlier, followed by U.S.-based IC designer Qualcomm Inc. (187 applications, down 20 percent).

Next on the list was American semiconductor production equipment supplier Applied Materials Inc. (163 applications, up 51 percent), followed by Japan's Toshiba Memory Semiconductor Corp. (132 applications, up 15 percent), and Beijng Bytedance Technology Co., a Chinese short video app provider (124 applications).

(By Liao Yu-yang and Frances Huang)
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