Let’s clear up some confusion. There is a battle being fought in the wireless industry over leadership with 5G patents. Some companies say the quality of patents is most important. Others say it’s the number of patents. The truth is, patent quality should not be confused with quantity. Quality is crucial. Quantity is not.
True leadership does not come from the number of 5G patents a company holds. True leadership comes from the quality of those patents. There is a big difference. Quality improves the operation of a product or service. Quantity is less important and often used in marketing and PR.
This is where things get confusing. While PR is important to any company to get the word out about their products and services, it can also be used to confuse the marketplace. I think that’s what is happening here.
Public relations can either clarify or confuse and companies often use it both ways to get the results they want. Many companies use PR both ways, but that does not always clarify things for the marketplace.
That’s what seems to be happening today. So, let’s go beyond PR and get to the truth with regards to quality patents and their importance to users, networks, investors and analysts.
Qualcomm and Huawei are top two players in 5G wireless network gear
Let’s take a look at the top two players in the 5G wireless space, Qualcomm and Huawei. Both of these companies are leaders in the segment, but both take a decidedly different approach.
Qualcomm focuses on quality with their patents. Huawei is also a leader, but they seem to focus on quantity or number of patents. And Huawei uses marketing and PR to try and gain an advantage in the marketplace.
This is what causes confusion. While it is true that Huawei has more patents than Qualcomm, the quality of the patents is not the same. And if that’s true, does the quantity really matter?
Qualcomm has always focused on improving the wireless and 5G experience for users and networks and making wireless carriers more efficient. Huawei has more patents, however only some of them are of the same level of importance.
So, if you are just counting the number of patents, Huawei has the lead. However, when you take a closer look at the quality of patents, you can see how they do not have an edge with regards to meaningful patents.
Media does not understand wireless 5G patents
The problem is we live in a headline-driven world. Major news sources are not experts in everything they cover, especially technology like wireless, 5G and patents. They often repeat what they are told or what they read in company provided press releases or in other news stories. Too often, this is not accurate and is slanted.
In this way, mistakes and errors seem to get passed around like they are accurate. That’s why a successful marketing and public relations campaign can sometimes give a company an undeserved advantage.
While I understand the position of the media and I feel bad that they cannot be an expert in all areas, the truth is important, and the truth is what is being watered down and even lost in all the chaos and noise.
Standard-essential patents (SEPs) for Qualcomm and Huawei
An essential patent or a standard-essential patent or SEP is defined as a patent that says an invention must comply with a technical standard. This is a very complex area and is easy to confuse the marketplace.
While 5G has the real potential to disrupt and completely transform so many industries, we are still very early in this process. That’s why companies are doing their best with marketing to be perceived in a leadership position.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to position your company as a leader, it can become very confusing, very quickly for non-industry observers to try and understand the facts.
I fear that is what is happening today with this issue of 5G wireless patents.
So, in this battle, it’s important to understand the facts. And the facts seem simple. Patent quality should not be confused with patent quantity. Quality is more important than quantity. Leadership comes from the quality of patents, not just the sheer number any company holds.
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