IOT Patent landscape: Samsung becomes the clear leader, startup Afero comes in fifth

The Google Trends data from 2008–2018 shows the growing interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) making it one of the most searched and researched emerging technology. Several forecasts and estimates have predicted significant growth in the IoT market with the expansion of internet connectivity, the high adoption of mobile technologies, declining cost of sensors, and the growing importance of automation as its main drivers.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the IoT market size is expected to grow from USD 157B in 2017 to USD 457B by 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5%.

Analysis of US patent data from 2008–2018 provides several insights on the IoT landscape.

Patenting activity 2008–2018

Filings spike started in 2013. Trend in filings from 2008 to 2013 have been stagnant with only a slight increase in 2012–2013. Some of the increase in IoT related patent and patent applications in the last 5 years may be result of companies redefining older categories, such as embedded systems, as IoT, due to the marketing buzz of the term “IoT”. Out of the 2,306 patent and patent applications, only 22% are granted patents.

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Top Players

The top players for IoT are largely dominated by companies (notably tech companies specializing in communications technology). Samsung leads the other top players by a large margin. Samsung promised in 2016 that all the company’s products will be IOT-compatible by 2020, and as of 2018 they have indicated that 90% already are.

Samsung has 54% more patents and patent applications than Qualcomm, which places second on the list. Below is a snapshot of the patenting activities of the top 5 assignees in the field on IoT.

Top Technology Areas


Patent and patent applications that are concerned with safeguarding connected devices and networks in the Internet of things (IoT). Examples include prevention of unauthorized access to data and authentication of users.

Filing and top player trends for the Security category follow the overall trend of IoT P/PA in general (i.e., Samsung is top player, increased filing in the recent years).

Smart Home

Patent and patent applications that relate to devices that are interconnected through the internet, and wherein the user can control functions such as security access to the home, temperature, lighting and home theater.

Samsung dominates this category, leading all other companies by a large margin. Samsung has a whole range of products dedicated to smart homes, from smart appliances to smart hubs to connect smart devices in a home setting. One of the products is SmartThings Hub which connects wirelessly with a wide range of smart devices and makes them work together.

Control Systems

Patent and patent applications relating to IoT systems for managing, commanding, directing or regulating the behavior of other device(s) or system(s) to achieve desired results.

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