Patent News

Jan. 16, 2015

Intellectual Asset Management: How patents and licensing underpin the multi-trillion dollar mobile communications economy, by Richard Lloyd

This post originally appeared in Intellectual Asset Management on January 16, 2015.

A new report has outlined the crucial roles that long-term R&D, a robust IP system and a collaborative approach to technology standards and licensing have played in the development of the mobile sector. The report by the Boston Consulting Group, Entitled The mobile revolution: How mobile technologies drive a trillion-dollar impact, was commissioned by Qualcomm and its timing is clearly meant to have some impact on Washington DC’s Capitol Hill as legislators start to consider another round of patent reform in the new Congress.

Whatever its context, however, the study does highlight the key factors that have fuelled the mobile revolution, including the billions spent in R&D backed by a strong IP framework and licensing system – factors that should resonate with anyone who has an interest in the patent debate.

According to the study, companies developing IP in mobile technologies invest more as a proportion of revenue in R&D (23%) than any other industry except biotech (which invests 27%). Notably pharmaceuticals, which is regularly cited as being particularly R&D intensive and the industry in which patents are most valuable, comes in third with 14%.

Those numbers are instructive because one simplistic view of the patent market and policy debates in DC is to view the world through a tech v pharma prism. It is, in reality, nothing of the sort. Hardware that reaches consumers’ hands might evolve quickly but the fundamental building blocks for devices take years and many millions of dollars to develop. The BCG research makes plain that the process unquestionably benefits from and is underpinned by robust IP laws.