The Race for 5G — April Update

April 14th, 2020 ‧ 3 min read

“Will the outbreak of coronavirus have an impact on the development of 5G?””

Spreading from China at the beginning of this year, coronavirus (COVID-19) has influenced industries from a wide range of aspects. In the telecoms industry, 5G commercialization could have made significant progress in 2020, but the coronavirus outbreak has changed everything.

Firstly, the 3GPP, a standards organization that develops protocols for mobile telephony, has canceled its face-to-face meetings for February, March, and April, just in case the attendees are exposed to the risk of being infected. Secondly, the Tokyo Olympics has now been postponed. Several scheduled 5G show and test cases could face cancellation or downsizing. However, we haven’t observed any obvious irregularities caused by the virus in the 5G declaration data.

5G ETSI Declaration Activity: April 2020

There are only three declarants of 5G SEPs for April 2020, and they are ETRI,  ZTE, and Nokia. It is also worth mentioning that ETRI increased its number of SEPs by around 120 families, allowing it to move forward to a new position.
The dashboard also details the number of declared patent families for each Technical Specification. The top 3 Technical Specifications for April 2020 are as follows:

  • TS38.213 (Physical Layer Procedures for Control);
  • TS38.331 (NR; Radio Resource Control (RRC); Protocol specification);
  • TS38.212 (NR; Multiplexing and channel coding).

Cumulative Rankings for 5G SEP Declaration


Top 10 Owners

Now, let’s take a look at the cumulative rankings, which are up until April 6th, 2020. Here, Samsung holds the first position, with ZTE, Huawei, LG, Nokia filling the top 5.

An interesting observation about the cumulative rankings is the proportion of SEP families owned by declaring companies that are not part of the top 10 has increased. Furthermore, if we take only the quantity of declared 5G SEP families into consideration, the benchmark for entering the top 10 is still 855 patent families (declared by Intel.)

Further Insights

Earliest Priority Date and Legal Status

For this page, we have provided a dashboard that highlights the relationship between the earliest priority date and legal status. To summarize, we have 30,868 active patents, 7,058 inactive patents, and 30,072 pending patents. InQuartik provided the legal status data; for further information, please visit the InQuartik website.


In this month’s report, we’re excited to introduce a new feature called “Release” to enable you to gain a better understanding of the declaration behaviors of the declaring companies. We discovered several interesting facts from the “Release” information. For example, If we choose Huawei as our target company by clicking the rightmost bar chart, we can see that none of the 5G SEPs declared by Huawei were accompanied by the specific version numbers, only the standards were provided. On the other hand, NTT Docomo declared its properties with the actual release numbers.

Time Analysis

In addition to adding a new feature for standards, we also aggregated all of the time-related information which is available in either the ETSI database or our various other resources. On this page, it is easy to observe patent applications, declaration activities, and what possible relationship they may have with each other.


With the addition of the new “Release” feature which enables us to provide deeper insights, we were able to uncover more and more interesting facts that emerged from the massive data set. However, it’s not yet clear how seriously the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the 5G SEP declaration activity. Stay tuned for all the latest developments in the 5G SEP world.

Data disclaimer: We have used commercially reasonable efforts to ensure that the data provided is complete and has been obtained from reliable sources. The information contained in this report is current as of the date of this report and may not reflect any circumstances that occur after such date. This report is not intended as legal advice. All information is provided “as-is” and we make no representation or warranty of any kind. We will not be liable for any lost profits, revenues, indirect, special consequential, exemplary or punitive damages resulting from this report.

Jackson Lin

Chairman &
Chief Executive Officer

Jackson Lin is the Chief Executive Officer of the WISPRO Group and the firm’s lead consultant. His expertise is focused on standard essential patents (SEP) and medical devices. In the past, he also expertised in various industries, e.g. cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), natural language processing, search engine, and etc..

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