Samsung’s patent-driven approach pays off

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan New Delhi | Updated on April 07, 2019


2,900 patents filed in India so far

As makers of electronics look to innovate and introduce new technology in India, Samsung has revealed details of its patent-driven approach to research and development. Around 2,900 patents have been filed so far from the company’s research centres in India, with an average of 250 patents every year, a top company official said.

At the forefront of this drive is Samsung’s research centre in Bengaluru, its biggest outside of South Korea, which has trained around 3,000 engineers in filing patents and working towards developing new and innovative technologies. Samsung has more than 9,000 people at its three research centres in India.

Read More: ‘So far Samsung R&D institute filed around 2900 patent applications in India’

‘Culture of innovation’

According to Aloknath De, Chief Technology Officer at the Bengaluru centre, 2011 was the year when new benchmarks were set and the R&D centre decided to plunge into advanced research. “We did not have a significant number of patents from this centre. But we set some goals,” De told BusinessLine. The company focussed on “innovation as a culture” and the patents coming out of the centre are a by-product of that culture.

“We started with people who came from other organisations with experience in filing patents. Then we started growing that pool and driving numbers because in the beginning, quantity is important,” said De. Samsung later started bringing in more people in the “inventor category”.

“Even those with one-two years of experience have been part of the contribution process,” he added. However, he did not elaborate on the number of patent wins made by the company out of the 2,900 applications.

Training programmes

The Bengaluru research centre launched three types of training programmes. The first was basic coverage or the “how do you start” process, which trained engineers on identifying and building a patent. The second programme focussed on improving the quality or the relevance of the patent idea and addressed possible weak dimensions such as business impact, relevance to Samsung, or short-term commercialisation. The third focussed on top quality patents that were measured against global benchmarks and filed globally. According to De, 70 per cent of the patents filed in India are also being filed globally in the US, the UK, and Europe.

Samsung’s research areas in India are now focussed on five broad categories – connectivity with a focus on 5G, camera, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistants, Internet of Things (IoT), and services such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, etc.

“Our projects used to come globally from different sources and we took up whatever came our way. But now, we are kind of selective. We want to build a centre of excellence (in these five areas),” De said. The centre started working on 5G in 2011 and has contributed a significant chunk of the global 5G patents filed by Samsung, he added.

Customised solutions

Samsung’s research in India also focusses on ‘Make for India’, with Samsung Pay and the S Bike Mode being examples of customising and building software solutions for India. “In some cases, we have built specifically for the Indian market and in some, it is a global product that we customise for India,” said De.

He elaborated on the example of Samsung Pay, in which one aspect was compliance – going to RBI and banks – and the other was identifying mobile wallets to partner with. The payment mode also integrated features such as near field communication and magnetic secure transmission. “We understood and influenced the RBI and banks to get onboarded,” said De, adding that Samsung also worked with the NPCI, and UIDAI for KYC-related aspects.

Taking it abroad

The Bike Mode that was developed for India at the Noida research centre has also been introduced in other countries. “We build for India, but if it is successful here, we take it to other countries,” said De.

The Bengaluru centre also worked on training the Bixby virtual assistant to understand different Indian accents and names of places and people.

Published on April 07, 2019

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