Samsung, Qualcomm lead the charge in wireless power patent activities

Samsung and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) have filed the most patent applications and received the most patents for technology related to wireless power, with LG coming in third place, according to data compiled by LexInnova.

Guess who was a no-show? Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). The consumer electronics giant hasn't amassed a ton of patents in the space, which is somewhat of a surprise given how much wireless power is driven by handset makers, said Rana Pratap, principal technology consultant at LexInnova.

Of course, Apple could license technology from Qualcomm or another vendor and not show up on the patent application list. But it's notable because a lot of industry observers are wondering what's cooking at Apple in the wireless charging arena.

LexInnova can also sort through patents and patent citations and automatically rank them. In a recent report ranking companies with the maximum number of high-strength patents, Qualcomm comes out on top, followed by Samsung, Access Business Group International, LG, WiTricity Corporation, Broadcom and Mojo Mobility.

Using what it calls its Licensing Heat Map framework, LexInnova is able to identify subdomains in the field of wireless power transmission where licensing activity is expected to be high. The research shows that inductive technique, magnetic resonating coupling and microwave power transmission are the subdomains where top assignees possess a good share of patents.

Total patents/patent applications in various consortiums. (Source: LexInnova)

The report also notes that Qualcomm has a majority of its patents pertaining primarily to the inductive technique of wireless charging. The patent filing trend "indicates that Qualcomm hasn't focused on magneto-dynamic coupling," the report states. LG has a strong portfolio in inductive technique, magnetic resonance coupling and mobile computing device.

Earlier this week, wireless power standards groups the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and Power Matters Alliance (PMA), announced the signing of a merger agreement between the two organizations. Previously at the International CES 2015, the organizations announced a merger letter of intent. The Wireless Power Consortium remains a separate standards group and continues to support the Qi wireless charging standard.

When looking at the three standards that have been competing in the wireless power transmission domain, it becomes clear that many major companies are part of multiple standards. For example, LexInnova's research shows Samsung with 1,136 wireless power patents/patent applications, and that includes Qi, PMA and A4WP types. Qualcomm comes in with 1,014, and it, too, has dabbled in all three standards. The report notes that Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 processors support Qualcomm's WiPower technology.

Toyota is another top assignee in wireless power transmission. The auto maker plans to introduce WiTricity wireless charging systems in its Prius and Avalon car models.

Geographically, China has witnessed maximum patent filings, with 4,770 patent applications. The U.S. is in second place, followed by Korea and Japan.

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