Nov
23

It’s Worse Than I Thought: Update on Invisible Innovation in China and Taiwan

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In my recent post, “Invisible Innovation: The Blindness of the West to China‚Äôs Innovation Story,” I lamented the failure of the Thompson Reuters list of 100 top global innovators to include anything from China (and Taiwan). In that post, I erred in stating that Foxconn’s 700+ US patents in the 2005-2010 time period for the TR study was greater than some of the companies that made the list. The error is that I should also have added Foxconn’s patent company to the search. By searching for “Hon Hai Precision” or Foxconn, I now see that we’re dealing with a company has over 5800 patents, more than three times as many as Apple in the same time period. What this means is that I was wrong in saying that Foxconn has more patents than SOME of the companies in the list–they actually have more than MOST of the companies on the list. The invisibility problem I discussed is even worse than I thought when such a mammoth patent estate escapes notice.

So how was Hon Hai/Foxconn overlooked, when they have more international IP activity than Apple and most of the companies listed? How is that possible, when their innovations are a major part of the Apple success story, and when they are the world’s largest maker of electronics? An electronic cloak of invisibility seems to have covered Foxconn and other Chinese or Taiwanese companies, making Chinese innovation largely invisible to the West. It’s time to take the cloak off.

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