Company Overview and Patent Portfolio
Panasonic is a Japanese electronics company founded in 1918. They operate within a broad technological field as shown by their low ratio between patents in their top 5 technological areas and total applications published, which shows a broad technological focus. They are one of the larger companies in the sample with 330,767 employees in 2011 and sales of € 78.0 bn.
Region and Number of Patent Application
Since 1992, Panasonic has been growing exponentially at a much faster pace than the sample average. With 22,772 patents applications published in 1992-1996, compared to the 20,675 of the sample average, they have now grown and published 62,208 applications between 2011 and 2013, which is almost twice as much as the sample average of 34,773. Panasonic has a very high patent output considering their rather low R&D intensity and just above average R&D investment in 2011.
The high patent activity coming from a low R&D intensity has its trade-offs for Panasonic. With just 219,047 forward citations, which is just 53 % of the sample average, the demand for their technology is low. Their ratio between forward citations and total patent applications published is by far the lowest of the sample, with just 1.45 compared to the 4.11 on average. With an average age of 11.1 years, Panasonic’s top 10 patents are older than the average, but with the recent high growth in patent activity, this might change in the coming years. The immediacy of Panasonic’s technology is neither high nor low, but very much depending on how their newest technology is received by the market, as high patent activity increases the likelihood of new top patents for Panasonic.
Another worrying number from Panasonic’s citation analysis is seen in figure 28, where Panasonic themselves accounts for number 1, 2 and 5 of the top 5 citers of their patents, taking into account that Sanyo Electric Co. is a Panasonic owned subsidiary and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is Panasonic’s former name. This means that Panasonic has a relatively high amount of internal citations compared to their competitors’ rates of self-citation.
Using Campbell’s (1983) company type classification, Panasonic is clearly a follower. They have a high patent activity, but a low dominance and scope. Their immediacy is not very high at the moment, but this might very well change in the coming years due to their growing patent activity. With the second broadest technology area in the sample, the low patent quality might not be an indication that Panasonic is a technologically weak company, but the effect of a follower strategy in many technological areas. According to Campbell (1983), a follower is a company with a high level of immediate patent activity but few citations, as this shows that they are building on top of the leaders’ basic technologies. According to the citation analysis, Panasonic is producing the basic technologies, but have found another spot in the market where they are still able to flourish, as shown by their high sales.
Analysis of the Patent Portfolio (PDF)
You can find the complete patent portfolio analysis of Panasonic below: