Analysis of global patent owners of power lithium-ion batteries
(1) Activity of patentee
In Figure 1, each sector represents the sum of the number of patents applied for by each type of enterprise. It can be seen from the figure that the total number of patents of companies with more than 100 patents accounts for 46% of the total number of patents; the total number of patents of companies with 21 to 100 patents accounts for 16% of the total number of electrode patents; and the total number of patents of small enterprises with 1 to 20 patents accounted for 38%. It shows that the patented technology is mainly concentrated in large and medium-sized enterprises, and the number of companies begins to decrease, implying that the technology is beginning to mature.
(2) Analysis of the Six Elements of Competitiveness
In terms of enterprise comprehensive competitiveness evaluation, according to the analysis model provided by the DialogInnograph patent analysis platform, an analysis chart of six elements of enterprise competitiveness is given (Figure 2). Among them, the abscissa represents the technological competitiveness of the enterprise, and the parameters involved include the number of patents of the enterprise, the number of categories involved in patents, and the number of citations of patents; the ordinate represents the strength of the enterprise, and the parameters involved include operating income, patent layout, and patent infringement: the size of the bubble represents the number of patents.
The results show that Toyota is located in the first quadrant in Figure 2, indicating that the company has the strongest comprehensive strength in the power lithium-ion battery industry. Next, Panasonic, Hitachi, Nissan Motor, and Toshiba are in the fourth quadrant, indicating that these companies are stronger in terms of technological competitiveness, but slightly inferior in terms of corporate strength. Companies such as LG Chem, Samsung SDI, and Bosch are located in the third quadrant, slightly behind in terms of corporate technological competitiveness and corporate strength.
(3) Type of patentee
Figure 3 shows the distribution of patentee types in major countries for power lithium-ion batteries. The types of patentees are mainly divided into enterprises, individuals and research units. It can be seen that compared with other countries, China has the largest proportion of research institutes, which is not conducive to the rapid transformation of results.
(4) Ranking of patentees
Among the top 15 companies, 12 are Japanese companies, occupying an absolute advantage. South Korea’s LG Chem ranked 5th, South Korea’s Samsung SDI ranked 7th, and Germany’s Robert Bosch ranked 9th. The top ranking of auto manufacturers reflects the trend of downstream industries integrating upstream industries. A brief introduction to key applicants is given below.
Toyota Motor Corporation is a global leader in hybrid technology, and its Prius has created a legend in the hybrid passenger car segment. Since its launch in 1997, the cumulative global sales of the Prius have exceeded 1.25 million, accounting for more than 70% of the total global sales of hybrid vehicles. In 2008, Toyota sold 430,000 hybrid vehicles worldwide. Thanks to the success of the Prius, PEVE has also developed into a leader in the field of automotive batteries.
In 1996, Panasonic Electric Industrial Corporation and its subsidiary Panasonic Battery Industrial Corporation and Toyota Motor jointly established PEVE (Primearth EV Energy) company, the full name of which is Panasonic Electric Vehicle Energy Corporation. At that time, it mainly produced lead-acid batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries for automobiles, and now it also conducts research and development of lithium-ion batteries.
At the end of 2011, BMW and Toyota signed a memorandum of understanding on new technologies for automotive environmental protection, including cooperation in the development of electric vehicle technology and sharing of diesel engines. The two companies announced in 2012 that they will cooperate in the research and development of a new generation of lithium-ion battery pack technology for vehicles, further deepening the cooperation in environmental protection technology.
The electrode made of manganese metal developed by Hitachi Group has better stability, and the sheet-like structure also helps to improve the performance of scattered attachment. It is reported that in the real vehicle driving test, not only the safety of the product has been verified, but also the ultra-long service life of more than 100,000 kilometers has been achieved.
The lithium-ion battery developed by Nissan can provide nearly twice the power capacity. The unique laminated structure also makes the volume of the lithium-ion battery module more lightweight and practical.
Japan Yuasa Co., Ltd. was established in 1918 and has a history of more than 90 years. It has been engaged in the research, development and production of batteries for a long time, leading the development of global batteries. Its Yuasa (Yuasa) brand battery is well-known all over the world. It is not only one of the top five battery manufacturers in Japan, but also one of the largest battery manufacturers in the world. It has more than 20 production plants around the world, and uses about 11% of the world’s lead. The main products are valve-regulated sealed lead-acid batteries, automotive starting batteries, motorcycle batteries and lithium-ion batteries, etc., and the products sell well all over the world.
LG Chem is a subsidiary of LG Group, one of the three major groups in Korea, and is one of the most important divisions of LG Group. For more than half a century since its establishment in 1947, LG Chem has grown into Korea’s largest comprehensive chemical company leading the Korean chemical industry through continuous innovation and research and development activities. LG Chem vigorously develops international business activities through dozens of domestic and foreign production corporations, research institutes, and marketing organizations, centered on three businesses: petrochemicals, information and electronic materials, and secondary batteries.
Samsung SDI is already the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer. As of the end of 2009, Samsung SDI had 12,000 employees, of which 1,300 were involved in R&D. Its R&D centers are located in South Korea, Japan, Russia and other countries, and it also has offices in Taiwan, Germany, Malaysia, India, Vietnam and other places. Not only for batteries used in IT fields such as notebook computers, Samsung SDI also plans to develop next-generation solar cells and fuel cell technologies to expand market share.
(5) The technical advantages of the patentee
This Toyota has an absolute advantage in the field of power lithium-ion batteries, mainly developing monomer, electrode and battery pack technology. It can be seen from Figure 4 that the distribution of the top 15 patentees is relatively close, and individual companies are different. For example, Japan’s ASAHI focuses on the development of diaphragm technology.