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Patenting in Electronics – Growing Fast

PFC has been bringing out analyses of patent applications filed in different areas from time to time. During the period of July 1996 to Sept 1998, a total of 15692 applications were published. The break-up of applications (all areas) filed at the four branches of the Patent Office is given below :

Patent Office Branch No. of applications Period of filing
Calcutta 5579 06.02.95 to 08.05.98
Chennai 5656 06.11.95 to 19.12.97
Delhi 3324 04.10.95 to 29.11.96
Mumbai 1133 04.09.95 to 02.08.97

PFC classifies these application, for which only titles are published, in broad areas of subjects. Based on this classification, it is observed that 3930 applications relate to chemicals, 1548 to drugs, 2678 to electronics, 1163 to electrical, 1337 to mechanical, 697 to materials and the remaining have been kept under a general category. First of all the difficulty in doing a consistent time series analysis may be noted due to absence of such a data at this stage. However, a good picture does emerge about the interest being shown by inventors and companies/organizations in filing patent applications in this important area. Contrary to the impressions of many, it is essential to note that electronics appear to be the second most important area after chemicals, in which a large number of applications are being filed in India. Needless to say that developments in this field should be closely followed as this may lead to a new future industrial climate in which many stake holders would take part.

A collective analysis of patent applications covering 2678 applications related to electronics reveals some interesting features. Inspite of the fact that there has been a lot of interest in the country in the filed of electronics in the last two to three decades, the share of Indian companies and individuals is only 5% in the total number of applications field the actual number is 130. The major players, apart from 83 individuals, are DRDO (7), Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (5), Electronics Research & Development Centres (4) and Texas Instruments (India) Ltd. (4). The broad areas covered in these applications are antennas, voltage regulators, digital musical instruments, display devices, electronic ballast, electronically controlled level indicators, anti-theft device for automobiles, processing in micro-electronic circuit, solar cell and electronic switches and explosives detection.

The remaining patent applications (2549) are apparently by foreigners and foreign companies. There are 1980 applications which have been filed as convention applications for claiming priority in India for applications originally filed in countries other than India. The majority of convention applications are from USA (623), Germany (330), South Korea (322), Japan (265), and UK (249). Other countries are Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

The break-up of applications in some significant areas is given below:

Subject Number
Cellular telephony 75
Antennas 63
Data transfer in telecommunication 45
Telecommunication networks 27
Optical fibre & opto-electronic inventions 97
Encoding and decoding of data 114
Display devices 96
Photovoltaic cell 23
Thin films 22
Chips 48
Microwave technology 34
VCR 44
Image processing 40
Data processing 33
Computer network 24
Internet 13
Electronic commerce 10

The 29 companies which have filed 10 or more applications are :


Siemens Aktiengeselschft, Germany 312
Daewoo Electronics co. Ltd., Korea             208
Motorola Inc, USA  130
British Telecommunications Public Ltd., UK 130
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Korea 107
Sony Corporation, Japan 107
Qualcomm Inc, USA 80
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Japan 77
Nokia Telecommunications OY, Finland 68
Philips Electronics NV 65
AT & T Corporation, USA 55
Canal + Societe Anonmyme 37
LG Electronics, Korea 35
NEC Corporation, Japan  33
Thomson Consumer Electronics, USA 26
Hitachi Ltd., Japan 24
Mitsubishi Deniki Kabushiki Kaisha, Japan 20
Bell Communications Research, USA 19
Haris Corporation, USSN 15
Krone Aktiengesellschaft, Germany 15
International Mobile Satellite Organization, UK  13
Globestar LP, USA 13
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, USA 12
Comsat Corporation, USA 11
Discovision Associates, USA 11
Analogic Corporated, USA 11
Intel Corporation, USA 10
Ominipoint Corporation, USA 10

Siemens Aktiengeselschaft has filed 40 applications for making chips and chip card modules, 40 applications relating to transmission and receiving of signals and data and 30 applications in the filed of memory cell and memory management. The company has also filed applications relating to telecommunication devices & techniques, optical fibers, microwave ovens and printed circuit boards. Daewoo Electronics Ltd. has shown interest in the area of video cassette recorder (33 applications), thin films (19 applications), optical disc recording and disc players.

Motorola has filed many applications in the subject of signal compression, encoding and satellite communication. British Telecommunications have focused on the area of speech recognition and processing and telecommunication networks.

Samsung Electronics has filed 30 out of its total 107 applications in the field of opto-electroics, which includes optical fibers, optical disc players, optical coupler, etc. The company has also filed 15 applications for coding and decoding techniques and few for cellular telephones with voice dialing. Sony Corporation’s 26 applications relate to recording devices and methods and 21 to display devices.

In respect of Qualcomm, 11 applications relate to the CDMA technique, there are a few application on position determination using a low earth orbit satellite. Matsushita Electric Work has filed 22 applications in respect of optical discs including recording on these discs. The company has some applications dealing with encoding, decoding and mobile communication systems. Nokia Telecommunications has filed applications in the field of event recording, mobile communication and systems for emergency calls.

Canal + Societe Anonyme has many applications dealing with encryption device and systems. Analogic Corporation has concentrated mainly on tomography. Globestar’s applications deal primarily with satellite based systems like multiple satellite fade attenuation control systems, satellite controlled power control for personal communication user terminal, closed loop power control for low earth orbit satellite communication systems etc. LG Electronics, Thomson Consumer Electronics and Mitsubishi Denki have applications on colour CRT/TV and associated systems.

Some applications seem to be software and database related applications. It may be mentioned that software per se is not patentable in India and similarly databases are not patentable. These would ideally be candidates for copyright. It is likely that these applications may not fall in the ‘per se’ category and may merit consideration for patenting. Nonetheless, it would be worth while to keep a track of such applications. The applications in the field of electronic commerce would also fall in the same category, to be tracked carefully.

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