Japan's Sony and Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry retained their titles for the most patent applications in Taiwan in 2007, according to the island's Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
Hon Hai is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, building products as varied as Sony's PlayStation game consoles, Nokia handsets and Apple's iPods. The company applied for 2,424 patents in Taiwan last year, retaining its title as the largest applicant for the fourth year running.
Sony has applied for more patents than any other foreign company operating in Taiwan for the past four years, but the company did not take the title for patents granted by Taiwanese officials. Sony came in second to Epson, the Japanese printer maker. Samsung Electronics took third place in patent grants in Taiwan last year, the IPO office said in a report.
Taiwanese officials approved 1,117 of Hon Hai's patent applications last year, giving the company a clear victory in the category. Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a publicly-funded research organization, was the runner-up to Hon Hai with 535 patents granted there last year.
AU Optronics, one of the world's largest LCD (liquid crystal display) panel makers, took third place in patent wins in Taiwan. The LCD industry on the island overall was one of the biggest categories in patent filings, the IPO office said.
The IPO office said Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) received the fourth-most patents last year, and notebook PC maker Inventec took fifth place. Both companies were granted more than 300 patents in Taiwan in 2007.
Some analysts look at patent application numbers as an indication of the amount of research and development being conducted in a country or company.