Sector deep dive: Telecoms

The race to 5G has been predominantly led by a handful of companies, including European leaders Ericsson and Nokia, as well as the likes of Huawei, Qualcomm and Samsung. Unsurprisingly, Nokia and Ericsson are among the top patent owners from the telecoms industry in Europe, but the rise of the latest wireless generation underlines the degree to which the space is about much more than those heading wireless infrastructure.

Qualcomm’s early focus on mobile chips is continuing to pay off, while Apple has steadily built its assets in 5G and IoT-related technologies, in part through the acquisition of Intel’s smartphone business. With 5G promising better connectivity across a range of devices – not just smartphones – these patents are increasingly valuable for their owners.

Table 1. Telecoms players from top 100

Company nameEU grantsIndustryCountry of origin
Nokia Corporation13,864TelecomsFinland
Interdigital3,385TelecomsUnited States

Table 2. Technology trends

Top trendsTop playersActive grantsTop players 2019-2020Active grants 2019-2020Key areasOther key players

5G networks and IoT

Ericsson5,389Ericsson2,046Network management and access controls, electric vehicle controls, hand-off communications, navigation and mobility management, instant messaging/video calling, machine-to-machine interactions, wireless transmission, multiplexing, power management, network and data security, resource management

Qualcomm, Samsung, LG Corp, Apple, Sony


Network and security


Data integrity intrusion detection system, security testing, user authentication, biometric and HMI based security, unauthorised access restriction, malicious traffic prevention, privacy protection

Qualcomm, Samsung, Intel


Human-machine interaction-based devices


Natural language processing, gesture sensing, human-machine interaction, augmented, virtual and mixed reality, voice recognition/speech analysis, HMI transmission, image processing, biometric security

Samsung, Sony, Microsoft


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