Company Overview and Industry Comparison
Google is an American Internet giant that started out as a search engine in 1996 and today specializes in all kinds of Internet-related products. In 2011 they had 32,467 employees, € 29.3 bn in sales and a relatively high R&D intensity with € 4.0 bn in R&D expenditure.
Region and Number of Patent Application
Since its early days, Google has shown substantial growth, which is still continuing at a high pace. Considering that Google published 8,687 applications in 2011-2013 compared to the lower numbers of “only” 6,828 applications between 2008 to 2012, it is clear that their growth has not stopped.
In absolute numbers, Google is still a small player with just 10,701 applications published in total. Additionally, compared to their high R&D intensity and R&D investment, Google is not as good as their competitors at turning R&D investment into patents. However, from 2007 to 2012, Google has managed to almost double their applications published, despite a minor slow-down in the industry.
The positive part about Google’s forward citations is that the company citing them the most is one of their main competitors, Microsoft. This indicates that, despite a low patent activity and a below average ability to generate forward citations, they produce basic technologies that competitors are interested in developing further.
One difference between Google and the other companies in this sample is that Google is a much younger company, which is reflected in the average age of their top patents, which is only 7.9 years. This is the lowest number of the entire sample and – along with their growing number of patent applications published – shows that Google’s technology has a very high immediacy. The other companies have had more time than Google to grow large R&D departments and even had a fairly high patent activity 10-20 years ago, whereas Google is still catching up. This explains the high immediacy and low amount of forward citations, as the most cited patents are usually some of the older patents in a portfolio. With the majority of Google’s patent portfolio still being new, they simply lack patents which have had time to age and receive many citations. This might very well change in the coming years, as the growth in patent applications published should statistically produce more forward citations over time.
The characteristics of Google’s patent portfolio do not fall directly into any of Campbell’s (1983) company types, as Google would be incorrectly classified as a loser. Their trajectory shows that they need to catch up in the IT industry, but also that they are a dominant player in their own field of Internet services and products. The patents in their top 5 technology areas, where they have a slightly more narrow technological focus than the sample average, reflect this dominance.
Analysis of the Patent Portfolio (PDF)
You can find the complete patent portfolio analysis of Google below: