Headquarters: Shenzhen, China
Industry sector: Telecommunications equipment
The statistics are the most persuasive evidence of ZTE’s commitment to intellectual property. After topping the tables as the world’s number one Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filer of 2012, it came in second in 2013, with over 2,000 applications filed – a trend which will doubtless continue in the future, given that it spent a staggering $1.2 billion on R&D last year alone. Its overarching objective is to obtain patents that align with its commercial strategy. Strict quality control procedures begin at the mapping stage, while the costs of administration and enforcement are controlled by portfolio integration and the abandonment of low-value patents. ZTE is also actively exploring the establishment of patent pools with other industry parties to streamline the licensing process and make technologies more accessible. The company’s IP strength has given it significant leverage in disputes: a global cross-licensing settlement with Ericsson in 2012 – just eight months after Ericsson had sued it in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy for patent infringement, receiving a countersuit in China in response – bears testament to its smart IP management.