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Huawei leads world in patents

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Out of the 218 000 patents submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organization last year, Huawei Technology retained its leading position among global businesses with a total of 3 898 patents submitted.

The number of international patent applications submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reached 218,000 last year, setting a new record, according to a press release of WIPO on March 16. Regarding numbers of filed patents, by country, the United States remained the largest, while China saw the fastest growth; by enterprise, Huawei Technology retained its leading position among global enterprises.

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In 2015, the United States submitted a total of about 57,400 applications, followed by Japan and China with about 44,200 and 29,800 applications filed, respectively. According to WIPO, China, South Korea and Israel saw the biggest growth in patent applications last year, with respective increase rates being 16.8%, 11.5% and 7.4%.

Among enterprises, Huawei ranked first for the second year with 3,898 applications, followed by Qualcomm with 2,442 applications and China’s ZTE with 2,155 applications.

In the opening ceremony of the fourth session of the 12th The National People’s Congress (NPC) held on March 5, Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in a speech entitled “Report on the Work of the Government “that China should improve its protection and application of intellectual property. Not long ago, telecommunications giant Huawei renewed a global patent cross-licensing agreement with Ericsson. In fact, communications and technology companies agree that protecting innovation and intellectual property is essential in further developing the smartphone industry, and patent plays a hugely important role in the development of smartphone manufacturers, and is the basis for transnational enterprises to lead in innovation and achieve growth. Huawei’s upward momentum in its global development clearly underscores this point.

How far has Huawei gone in the world of patents?

As an emerging technology company seeing fast growth in the smartphone era, Huawei has performed especially well in terms of patents. Huawei has obtained a large number of patents not only in China but also in overseas areas, making it qualified to be included into the “giant-class” and the competition to its Western counterparts in the mobile phone industry.

According to the 2015 annual report of the European Patent Office (EPO), Huawei ranks ninth in Europe with 498 granted applications, and remains among the top 10 in Europe with this number. In the 2015 European Patent Application rankings, Huawei was fourth with 1,953 patent applications, and first with 1,197 patent applications in the digital communications field in terms of differentiation techniques. At present, Huawei is growing steadily with an annual increase of 1,300 patent applications globally.

As we know, Huawei has a considerable patent reserve and is rapidly acquiring new patents. At the same time, Huawei has also entered into patent cross-licensing agreements with Apple and Ericsson. So as one of the leaders in the global communications and technology industries, Huawei is not only working to build its own intellectual property reserve nut also cooperating with other big players to observe and maintain order in the field of patents.

Possession of high-quality patents is the engine to drive Huawei forward

Patent applications on their own do not give the applicant any advantages, as only granted patents can be used to protect interests. In fact, in international patent litigation cases only patents granted overseas can be considered as the legal basis.

Over the past few decades, Huawei has accumulated a leading number of overseas patents. By 2015, Huawei Consumer BG had more than 9,000 global patent applications, including more than 2,000 patents obtained in China and 1,100 in overseas areas like Europe, America and other regions.

Huawei clearly enjoys a considerable advantage in patents, which is considered as crucial intellectual ammunition in international competition. Over the next 10 or 20 years, this basic advantage will help propel Huawei forward, allow it to focus on technological innovation and product development, to maintain stable and efficient growth, and to solidify its global competitive advantages.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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