Smart energy patents, an uncertain panorama – report

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Advances in the smart energy patent area are necessary to reduce costs, Berlin-based market intelligence company IPlytics reports.

The study from IPlytics is based on the premise that smart energy technology is based on standardised technologies such as 4G, 5G and Wi-Fi, which are subject to thousands of standard essential patents (SEPs). In turn, this has implications for the industry implementers of these standards as well as for the standards developers and owners of the patents and SEPs.

The data shows a strong overall increase in patent filings as well as declarations of potential SEPs from 2012 to 2020, with a peak of 6,078 filings in that year. Typically, standards development and therefore the R&D around connectivity standards is the first activity followed by patent filings and the declaration of potential SEPs.

At the same time, the standards contributions have declined, with most, as well as the SEP declarations, originating from the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Most also have been submitted to the 5G connectivity standard, followed by local area network (LAN) standards such as the IEEE 802.11 series (Wi-Fi) or the IEEE 802.24 or IEEE 802.15 series.

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The interplay between the 5G and Wi-Fi standards and smart energy opens up new opportunities and areas of application for energy companies, states IPlytics, which goes on to assess technology leadership based on patent filing activity, SEP declaration and standards development.

Heading up the list is Qualcomm with 2,448 smart energy patent families and 550 declared SEPs but just 19 smart energy standard contributions.

Second-ranked LG Electronics has 534 smart energy patent families, 92 declared SEPs and four smart energy standard contributions.

Ericsson with 471 smart energy patent families has the second largest number of declared SEPs, 117, while Intel with 138 smart energy patent families and 41 SEPs has the largest number of 67 smart energy standard contributions.

IPlytics points out that the success and adoption of smart energy depend on these technology leaders, who will develop devices, chips, networks, applications, services, sensors and connectivity standards.

“While many patents have already been published in the field, the picture in standard setting remains mixed. It is not yet fully clear which standard organisations will lead the standardisation of this technology and where smart energy application will be described and standardised,” the company says in its study.

“Likely it will depend on the use case where, for example smart meter devices installed at home or in factories will connect to Wi-Fi, while for example, electric vehicles will use 5G to exchange smart energy-related information,” it suggests.