AT&T is still lagging behind major competitor, Verizon, in edge computing with 40 patent documents in the last ten years to Verizon’s 63. However, AT&T is keeping up with Verizon in the blockchain category with their first patent application published. Neither company has had much activity in the space but as pointed out in previous insights, the category offers the most opportunity for any company interested.
While AT&T only holds a patent application, it is encouraging to see more large companies join the category and as pointed out in the cryptocurrency sector, blockchain could be valuable for AT&T. With Akamai as their main competitor in the space, AT&T could leverage the white space in blockchain to build an exclusive market within edge computing. To keep an eye on what the mobile carriers in edge computing do next, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!
Toyota is currently the leader among car manufacturers and it isn’t close. Despite Kia Motors having an earlier entrance into the edge computing space, that start has only mustered one issued patent and two patent applications published. Meanwhile Toyota, which entered the industry a year later, has already amassed a total of thirteen patent assets, three issued patents and ten published applications. Ford has been the only other manufacturer to show activity in the market but they only joined in 2021 with one published application.
Toyota’s interest in edge computing was solidified back in 2017 when it announced a consortium with major technology providers like Intel, Ericsson, etc. Based on how slow Kia Motors has been then it appears that Ford will have the best shot of keeping up with Toyota if they adopt a similar pace in filing applications. It will also be worth watching if Honda’s previously written partnership with Verizon leads to patent activity in the same way that Toyota’s partnership with other technology providers did.
In the meantime Toyota continues to take control of the white space in edge computing and other car manufacturers will need to move quickly if they wish to compete. To stay up to date with the latest news, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!
Section IO offers Edge as a Service (Eaas) and was founded in Australia before moving to Colorado, US. Section.io raised twelve million dollars in April of 2021 and recently joined the edge computing sector with their first published application. Section does seem to realize they are late to the party because they filed for a fast track request on their application, but they do benefit from being able to claim priority to a provisional application filed in March of 2020.
Section’s current patent application is broad but generally relates to load balancing and adaptive workloads since their product is geared toward engineers and developers. While a relatively small company, they have raised over $24 million in funding and have the backing of technology-focused investors, the Foundry Group. Additionally Section’s patent strategy will put them in a strong position if their first application gets granted. Expect to see more applications show up as Section uses that new funding to file for more protection and take full advantage of the priority date.
StrongNode is a unique startup in the increasingly competitive edge computing space. Co-founded by Daniel Saito, a former executive of MySQL who was part of their $1b exit to Sun Microsystems, StrongNode offers Node Infrastructure-as-a-service that aims to optimize idle resources and utilize edge computing. Saito and the entire company are taking the same open source software approach that aided MySQL’s massive success, offering a decentralized, open source, and more affordable super computing alternative to companies like Amazon.
While StrongNode doesn’t hold any published or issued patent assets, its dedication to open source software and ambition roadmap for the next year that includes targeting everything from NFTs, eSports, and smart contracts could make it an interesting startup to watch. The executives at StrongNode also have connections to both Red Hat and Theta Labs who both already have an established presence in the edge computing sector. It will be interesting to see if StrongNode can leverage these former connections for partnerships, especially given the aligned interests of Red Hat and StrongNode in the open source industry.
Nusantao, Inc. is a small startup founded in 2018 and based in San Francisco, CA. As the company itself is fairly new, Nusantao is new to the edge computing sector with only four total patent assets, with the earliest one being filed in 2019. Despite this small patent portfolio, the subject of the patents along with the connections that Nusantao has in place make it a worthy company to watch. Nusantao’s focus is on secure edge computing, specifically around managing data on edge sensors. The sole issued patent (U.S. Patent No. 11,095,613) covers a method of encrypting sensor data before it is sent to the processor, protecting it both from network hijacking or a hardware exploit on the device.
This security-focused approach to edge computing will likely yield positive results for Nusantao as there is continued demand for better data protection throughout the industry and edge computing is one field that is highly susceptible to cyber attacks due to the reliance on global networks and placement of sensors in unsecured locations. Nusantao also benefits from the fact that the co-founder and CTO, Vince Corning, has a previous successful exit to Intel for Picazo Communications which was acquired in 2000 for $140M. As Intel is currently the undisputed leader of the edge computing patent space, it seems likely that Nusantao could be a future acquisition target to reinforce the security of Intel’s platform as they continue to invest in that space.
Data security is a need that won’t be going away anytime soon, and Nusantao appears to be in a prime position to capitalize on that need in edge computing. Given Intel’s security-related headaches in recent years, acquiring companies with innovative approaches to protecting data is a logical step forward and would benefit everyone involved. To keep an eye on more startups entering the patent space and how they might fit into other companies’ portfolios, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!
Hewlett-Packard (HP) was highlighted in August of 2020 for their big spending and acquisition-heavy approach in edge computing. This week it appears that the investment has paid off. HPE announced a $2 billion, ten year contract with the National Security Agency (NSA). HP’s intellectual property in edge computing focused on intelligent edge services that respond dynamically to resource needs and on cloud integration, both of which are important factors for the large amounts of data involved with the NSA contract. Additionally, as was highlighted in the previous insight, HP bought big data startup MapR which brought in IP for AI/ML and data analytic management.
While HP has a relatively small patent portfolio compared to other large tech companies in the sector like IBM and Intel, this massive contract should spur more investment and could encourage them to seek out more acquisition targets in the space. Dell EMC and Pure Storage are two strong competitors for data centers, but with a steady cash flow from the US government, HP is well-positioned to stay competitive.
Foghorn Systems is a startup based in Sunyvale, CA that develops edge intelligence solutions for IoT applications deployed in industrial or commercial settings. Founded in 2014, Foghorn has raised over $70 million in funding and was recognized as a leading company in Edge AI innovation. Recently Foghorn announced that they would be providing solutions to Aramco, a Saudi Arabian based oil company with over $200 billion in revenue in 2020. Foghorn has only been active in the edge computing sector within the past five years, but have already built a portfolio of ten patent assets. While small relative to the technology giants in the space, Foghorn benefits from a more specialized area of edge computing with little competition, similar to Rockwell Automation.
With high praise from the industry and a very large company buying their solutions, Foghorn has strong momentum on their side and will likely keep investing in expanding their patent portfolio to retain their competitive advantage. One interesting wrinkle could come from Relyance AI, a machine learning and data privacy company co-founded by one of the founding members of Foghorn, Abhi Sharma. Relyance’s other co-founder is attorney and data protection expert, Leila Golchehreh. Relyance is currently operating in stealth mode and has not filed for any patents that are published within edge computing, but they have a stated purpose of redefining data protection for organizations through automation and machine learning. It will be worth watching if Relyance joins the sector soon with their own patents and if they try to compete with Foghorn in the industrial market.
Theta Labs is a startup that is building a content-delivery network for streaming and video delivery. Theta Labs was previously featured in an insight about some of the big-name partnerships it had been able to make with companies like Google and Lionsgate. In July of 2021 it was issued its third patent, bringing it up to six total patent assets which ties them for second in the Blockchain category with Dell EMC, Intel, and Vapor IO.
Theta Labs will likely take sole ownership of the second place spot soon and only lag behind Akamai, a company with considerably more resources to invest. Theta has also been able to forge a new partnership to expand into the NFT space, leveraging its blockchain technology in a new business venture. Theta’s strong investment in intellectual property has also kept them firmly in front of competitors Livepeer, Lbry, and Aioz, none of which have any signs of US patent activity. Theta Labs is positioned well to continue growing and with the co-founder of YouTube and the co-founder of Twitch on its advisory board, it has big potential to be a disruptor in video streaming.
Swarmio Media is a small startup in Canada that develops esports monetization solutions and cloud-based computing platforms. Swarmio is still in the early stages as a company with only 40 employees and around $85k in revenue in 2020, but that revenue has been prioritized for pursuing a patent portfolio on their technology. After filing a fast-track application in November of 2020, just 8 months later in July of 2021 they were issued their first patent in the edge computing sector. The expedited patent prosecution also lends itself to the strength of Swarmio’s claims in an industry that has become much more active in the past few years.
Swarmio most recently raised $5 million dollars through a reverse listing on the CSE and given their focus on intellectual property protection with limited revenue, it is reasonable to expect with the new funding that this issuance will be the first of multiple filings. The Platform Non-Blockchain category has seen strong activity for multiple years, but Swarmio benefits from being focused on eSports (electronic sportical games) where there is far less activity in edge computing and the fast issuance of their first patent is a promising start.
It is also notable that Swarmio’s patent (US No. 11063881) focuses on the reduction of network delay through local distance estimation, something that could be utilized in multiple applications outside of eSports. It will be worth watching to see if Swarmio attracts any partners in the space who aren’t invested in eSports but want to license Swarmio’s technology. One possible connection would be Netflix who recently announced their interest in adding game streaming to their service. Netflix currently only has two patent assets in the space so they will need to build or buy a portfolio in edge computing to keep up with the latest tech.To keep up with all the new startups in the space and latest patent trends, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!
Rockwell Automation is an industrial automation company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Rockwell was initially active in the edge computing sector with seven total patent assets, but their most recent issuance is from 2019 and their last publication is from the same year. However, Rockwell has shown a strong interest in edge computing from an announcement in June of 2021 for a $2.2B acquisition of Plex Systems. Plex is a Michigan based software company known for their Plex manufacturing cloud-edge technologies.
Rockwell does benefit from being in a specialized field of edge computing that the major tech companies such as Intel and Cisco likely won’t try to pursue. However, there are other startups in the space like Oden Technologies that had a patent issued in 2020 related to edge computing and manufacturing. Rockwell would be wise to keep an eye on the patent trends and invest some of that capital into protecting their intellectual property before Oden or another smaller company excludes them from the market by patenting across the space.
To keep an eye on trends in the patent space and watch to see what companies are investing in intellectual property, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!