I wouldn’t normally give such a list much attention, but when I was glancing at the top 100 list, I recognized many of the usual suspects on there, such as Apple, Intel, HP, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony, Xerox and Alcatel-Lucent.
Here’s the thing. According to Thomson Reuters, its program analyzes patent data and related metrics to identify the world leaders innovation activity. Allow me to quote David Brown, president of the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters:
“We salute these companies and their leaders for the innovative spirit they foster and their commitment to protecting intellectual assets.”
Thomson Reuters looked at all organizations with 100 or more “innovative” patents, and how many of them were granted, over the past three years, and also how often they get cited in other patent filings. They also looked at how many ‘major world markets’ their patents were protected in, ruling out a bunch of innovative companies that don’t have the resources to do this on a global scale (yet).
Now, I’m not an expert, but I daresay patent-related metrics should only be part of the methodology one should use to determine who is innovating or not.
Put differently, if a company like Google – despite its flaws, easily one of the hallmark hotbeds of innovation the world knows today – is not worthy of this list, then my assumption is the criteria used to get other companies ranked on there are pretty much worthless.
Interestingly, Thomson Reuters ranks ‘Motorola Inc.’ as a top 100 global innovator, even if there’s no such company anymore. That company was divided into two separate entities, Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, so it’s worth questioning the quality of Thomson Reuters’ program some more.
Coincidentally, Motorola Mobility is in the process of being swallowed by Google.