Headquarters: New Taipei City, Taiwan

Industry sector: Computer hardware

Leading computer hardware producer Acer discovered the importance of intellectual property the hard way. A copyright infringement spat with IBM almost three decades ago, which ended up in a 9 million damages award against it, taught it a salutary lesson and it began to make serious investments in its IP capacity as a result. By the time HP sued Acer in the United States for patent infringement in 2007, it was in a position to counter-assert both its own patents and rights acquired from Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute; this strong defensive position gave it the leverage to reach a settlement within a year. Meanwhile, strategic acquisitions of US rival Gateway and European Packard Bell strengthened its product lines and cemented its presence in western markets. Thanks to this increased geographical footprint, Acer is now the fourth largest PC vendor in the world.