Taipei, Feb. 8 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, ranked as the top patent applicant in Taiwan for the fourth consecutive year in 2019, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA).
TSMC was the top patent applicant in both the local and foreign business communities in Taiwan, while Alibaba Group Services Ltd. from China's largest e commerce operator Alibaba took the top spot in patent applications among foreign companies in the year, the MOEA said.
Data compiled by the MOEA showed that TSMC filed a total of 1,333 patent applications in 2019, up 41 percent from a year earlier. Last year, the company's applications breached 1,000 for the first time, representing growth for five consecutive years, the data showed.
The MOEA said all of TSMC's applications were invention patents.
Under Taiwan's patent law, patents are categorized into three groups invention patents, utility model patents and design patents with invention patents the most important in terms of the creation of new technical ideas.
Commenting on TSMC's patent applications, Hong Shu min (???), director general of the MOEA's Intellectual Property Office (IPO), said the chipmaker has been gearing up to compete with South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. in sophisticated 3 nanometer technology development by boosting its capital expenditure, so that the company saw its patent applications increasing accordingly.
The 7nm process is the latest technology on which TSMC has started mass production. The company is planning to launch mass production of the 5nm process later this year and the 3nm process in 2022.
In mid January, TSMC said its capex for 2020 is expected to hit a new high to a range of between US$15 billion and US$16 billion. Market analysts said the increase in captex could further lift the company's patent applications this year.
On the local patent application front, Acer Inc. came in second, filing 565 applications that were comprised of 407 invention patents, 108 utility model patents and 50 design patents, ahead of flat panel maker AU Optronics Corp. with 553 applications, government sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute with 385 and integrated circuit designer MediaTek Inc. with 356, the data showed.
Among the top foreign applicants, Alibaba filed a total of 850 patent applications in 2019, comprised of 828 invention patents, three utility model patents and 19 design patents, the data showed.
American semiconductor production equipment supplier Applied Materials Inc. took the second spot with 663 patent applications, followed by U.S. based IC designer Qualcomm Inc. with 582, Japan's semiconductor supplier Tokyo Electron Ltd. with 496 and electrical product maker Nitto Denko Corp. of Japan with 403.
Hong said the number of the patent applications by Qualcomm fell 42 percent from a year earlier in 2019 due to a relatively high comparison base in 2018, when the U.S. company filed more than 1,000 applications.
In 2019, the IPO received a total of 74,652 patent applications, up 2 percent from a year earlier, with invention applications making up 80 percent of the total, the data showed.
Invention patent applications grew 8 percent from a year earlier in 2019, marking the third consecutive year of increase, and design patent applications grew 10 percent, the IPO said. However, design patent applications fell slightly last year, the IPO added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel