Headquarters: Osaka, Japan
Industry sector: Consumer electronics
Funai Electric is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) which has for years produced televisions, video recorders and players, and printers under brands including Philips, Magnavox, Emerson and Sanyo. The company is one of the pioneers of the trend which has seen OEMs seek to expand their businesses and build their own brands – and patents have played a key role in that process. In 2012 it bought 360 patents from IPG Electronics (they were originally owned by Philips), which it followed up the next year by paying $202 million to acquire Philips’ entertainment lifestyle division outright. Funai made another big deal with a manufacturing partner when it paid Lexmark $100 million to obtain over $1,500 patents and other assets related to the US company’s inkjet technologies. The company hasn’t just used those patents to expand its product offerings, it has also monetised them. This year it became the latest Japanese operating company to partner with WiLAN, transferring a portfolio of microphone-related patents to the Canadian company. This relationship puts Funai on the cutting edge of Japanese companies with respect to IP value creation.