The A to Z of Alphabet’s Diverse Patent Portfolio

Google co-founder Larry Page wrote in a blog post in August 2015, “What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies. The largest of which, of course, is Google. This newer Google is a bit slimmed down, with the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products contained in Alphabet instead.”

Alphabet came into existence in 2015 when Google was restructured into multiple companies. As a part of the re-organization, Google’s core Internet business was separated from its other projects and formed into companies under a new parent company called Alphabet.

The companies under Alphabet include the following:

  • Google, the largest subsidiary of Alphabet, owns the search engine, Android and Android-related services, and all other Google apps such as Maps, YouTube and AdSense.
  • Alphabet Access & Energy focuses on the company’s telecommunications projects and energy initiatives.
  • Google Fiber is the high-speed internet service provider.
  • Nest is a smart-home devices company that Google acquired in 2014 and retained it as a separate branded entity.
  • Google Ventures (GV) and capitalG are Google’s investment funds.
  • Waymo is Google’s autonomous car initiative.
  • Verily and Calico are into healthcare.
  • Sidewalk Labs strives to improve urban living by addressing issues such as pollution and energy usage.
  • DeepMind is Alphabet’s AI research arm acquired by Google in 2014.
  • Google X is an R&D facility that strives to improve the world through its “moonshot” technologies such as such as diabetes curing contact lenses and product delivery drones.

Alphabet possesses a diverse patent portfolio addressing a range of areas from machine learning, cloud, transportation to smart wearables and healthcare. The company owns a large portfolio of around 55,000 currently active published patent applications. In this report, we take a closer look at the company’s technology assets and present related insights and trends.

General Trends

Figure 1: Published Applications – Growth [Click on image to enlarge]

Alphabet has built an impressive patent portfolio over the years, with many of its patents aimed at futuristic technologies. Figure 1 shows that the patent publications exhibit a significant and continuing upward trend post 2011.  


Figure 2: Key Geographies [Click on image to enlarge]

As seen in Figure 2, the U.S. is the preferred home jurisdiction for Alphabet to file in, with more than a 60% share of the published applications, followed by Europe and China.







Technology Trends

As a part of its strategy to keep abreast with its competitors, such as Amazon and Microsoft, Alphabet has been focusing on expanding its cloud and AI businesses. Alphabet has acquired multiple companies to add to the Google Cloud platform. The company recently announced its plans to buy the cloud storage vendor Elastifile. The other major acquisitions in this space include Kaggle in 2017, Anvato, Orbitera and Apigee in 2016 and Stackdriver in 2014.

Alphabet has acquired almost fifteen AI-related start-ups since 2013. DeepMind, one of its largest AI acquisitions for $628 million, placed Alphabet as a major player in Artificial Intelligence. Alphabet also invests heavily in healthcare through its subsidiaries Verily Life Sciences and Calico, where the company uses AI technologies in medical diagnostics and informatics.

Figure 3: Evolution of Technologies – CPC Code Analysis [Click on image to enlarge]

Figure 3 shows the evolution of the technologies addressed by its portfolio based on an analysis of the CPC codes.  It is observed that the technologies covered by the CPC codes G06F 3/04842 (Selection of a displayed object) and G06F 16/9535 (Search customisation based on user profiles and personalisation) show the highest year-on-year growth post 2012. Technologies covered by the CPC code G06Q 30/02 (Data processing for marketing) display an increased year-on-year growth till 2013, after which the growth has declined.

Alphabet’s portfolio has an average Relecura Star rating of 2.51 out of 5. Typically, a patent with a Relecura Star rating of 3 or more is deemed as one of high-quality. The Relecura Star rating ranks each patent on a scale of five. It is a proprietary composite metric incorporating multiple criteria. The metric combines different technology, business, and litigation related factors. The high-quality patents in Alphabet’s portfolio relate to broad technology categories like “Data processing adapted for billing, commerce or marketing” and “Providing wireless communication services to user via network”.

Alphabet faces competition from Microsoft in patents related to search engines and e-commerce, and in social media from Tencent. Amazon and Alibaba pose stiff competition to Alphabet with regard to patents related to e-commerce billing and marketing. Read the report to get all of our insights into Alphabet’s patent portfolio and details on the complete competitor analysis of Alphabet with Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.

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The contents of this report were referenced in an IAM article. To read the article, click here


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