Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Industry sector: Electronics, imaging, energy, semiconductors, computer hardware, telecommunications equipment
Founded in the 1940s on the back of a single patent for a tape recorder, Sony has a grand tradition of invention. Sony was a driving force behind early patent pools, collaborating with other industry players to set up pools for CD technology as far back as the 1980s. They remain a focus to this day: earlier this year Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission approved a new DVD patent pool that Sony established in tandem with LG, Pioneer and Philips. Sony was the only Asian company in the Rockstar Consortium, which jointly acquired Nortel’s 6,000-strong patent portfolio for the record-breaking sum of $4.5 billion. It was also one of the first Asian companies to invest in patent aggregator Intellectual Ventures, in a move aimed at strengthening its defensive position. Direct licensing is another pillar of the company’s IP strategy – a recent agreement has granted Technicolor access to its smartphone and tablet technologies. Meanwhile, Sony is continually fine tuning its internal structural to maintain its lead in the global electronics, games and entertainment sectors. In September 2013 it established a third-party production team for its PlayStation business division in order to bring existing intellectual property – such as titles developed by other gaming houses – to its platforms. Sony’s willingness to partner with smaller outfits in order to enhance the content of the PlayStation platform is one that market competitors would perhaps do well to take note of.