I have got interested in a recent blog post: The Real Difference Between Google and Apple and started wondering: What about Ericsson?
Well, the USPTO data is available for all to grab, so I headed there and downloaded some files of interest, namely the assignee, inventor, patent, patent_assignee and patent_inventor data files.
The first step as always is to process the data in a way we can make use of it. In this case I wanted to get used to Gephi so I created a nodes.csv containing the list of inventors and an edge.csv containing the relationship between these inventors i.e. who has a patent in common with whom. This process is handled by a Jupyter notebook I created and which is available on GitHub, well for some reason it doesn’t display properly on GitHub, but you can still clone the repo and make use of it.
The next step was to import that data in Gephi and create a relationship graph with some heavy use of the “Force Atlas 2” layout algorithm. I then proceeded further by performing a statistical Modularity analysis and using it as the basis to display communities within the inventors. So what you see above are the inventors. The biggest the dot, the most heavily linked that person is (maybe I should eventually change it so the size represent the number of patents awarded). The bluish lines are the connections between the inventors. And the bubble colour represents a “community” of inventors.
The end results I think shows a middle ground between the centralised development structure seen at Apple and the distributed approach seen at Google. From this graph, Ericsson would appear to have some strong centralised communities of inventions, but as well a large number of independent or small group inventions we can see at the periphery (left in grey). Some of the main communities of inventions are intertwined and some are more well defined.
Well, without going into the details of the internal structure and ways of working at Ericsson, this is where the analysis will stop.
UPDATE (2017-03-01): I have updated the picture in order for the size of the bubbles to be proportional to the number of patents generated by an inventor. Also below is the same kind of picture made for Huawei patents, 10 years worth of patents