25 Mar
2021

Sector deep dive: Software/internet

This is firmly Chinese turf, dominated by Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu, Tsinghua Unisplendour and 360 Security Technology. Since the tech giants operate across a wide spectrum of connected and digitised ecosystems, their focus has been reflected in their IP activity, which includes HMI, AI and machine learning, networking and security, and cloud and content management.

While the likes of Tencent and Baidu are significant innovation players in their own right, they have also benefitted from the fact that internet behemoths such as Google and Facebook are barred from China. That is not to say that this space is completely devoid of overseas players; Microsoft and IBM boast significant patent holdings, while Sony, LG and Samsung also feature.

Table 1. Software/internet players from top 100

Company nameChinese grants (patents only)Country of origin
Tencent12,130China
Alibaba Group6,685China
Microsoft6,249United States
IBM6,093United States
Baidu5,758China
Tsinghua Unisplendour4,925China
360 Security Technology4,791China

Table 2. Software/internet technology trends

Top trendsTop playersActive grantsTop players 2019-2020Active grants 2019-2020Key areasOther key players
Human-machine interaction-based devicesTencent642Tencent414NLP, machine learning, facial/voice/gesture recognition, real-time communicationBBK Electronics, Samsung, Xiaomi
Microsoft481Baidu335
Baidu421Alibaba252
Alibaba291Microsoft194
GUI-based functionsMicrosoft735Tencent360GUI-based display, virtual character motion control, GUI-based controls, multi-dimensional gamingXiaomi, ZTE, LG Corp, Huawei
Tencent675Microsoft228
Alibaba244Alibaba188
Baidu177Baidu123
Network management and securityTencent1,595Tencent923Combination networks training, push-based services, web-based technology distribution, data integrity intrusion detection system, security testing, user authenticationHuawei, BBK Electronics, Xiaomi, ZTE, Intel
Alibaba877Alibaba720
Microsoft866Baidu403
IBM590Microsoft263
Baidu537360 Security Technology246
Information access and content managementTencent2,113Alibaba1,277Digital data processing system, information retrieval, indexing/web crawling, content management (website), hypervisor-specific management, software deployments/updates, spatial or temporal dependent retrieval, social networkingHuawei, Sony, Alphabet, Samsung
Alibaba1,762Tencent1,127
Microsoft1,599Baidu843
Baidu1,405360 Security Technology423
IBM1,040Microsoft417