As the war between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS platform continues, both tech giants are racing to stockpile key intellectual property in a bid to stave off a legal extinction event, with Google in particular seeing its patent filings surge last year. In 2011, the Silicon Valley heavyweights were granted 1,234 patents between them. In 2013, this number more than tripled to 3,826, according to patent data compiled from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Google seems to be particularly aggressive in its drive to collect intellectual property. The 3,042 patents awarded to the search giant in the last two years represent three quarters of Google’s entire war chest of just over 4,000 patents and patent applications from the company have more than doubled in the last three years.
Apple on the other hand has seen its patent assignments increase from 807 in 2011 to 1,953 in 2013. Apple, with a 22-year head start on Google, also maintains a larger overall arsenal than its rival, with 7,723 patents to its name, some of which cover foundational concepts in personal computing.
Despite the growth, both companies’ patent portfolios still pale in comparison to those of other tech giants. IBM for example holds more than 82,000 patents while Samsung counts more than 60,000 in its own collection.
As some of you may have already guessed, Patents have become increasingly important in the tech world over the last half-decade as both offensive and defensive weapons. There is perhaps no issue that illustrates their importance better than the ongoing legal battle between Apple and manufacturers who use Google’s Android operating system, such as Samsung. Apple has leveraged its intellectual property cache into repeated legal victories over Samsung, from whom it won a landmark $1 billion judgment, and new Google subsidiary, Motorola, inventor of the mobile phone and itself holder of bedrock patents surrounding technology.
We’ll have to see how the future patent court cases get handled with the patent portfolios built up.