Gibbs Intellectual Property Strategist Business Consultants Investment Due Diligence
Case Study: Samsung Laptop Competitive Analysis
Back to Due Diligence Articles






business due diligence celebrity business startup
business startup Leadership Profile
write a business plan high tech startup
investment due diligence Contact
patent strategist intellectual property strategy


This predictive case study (completed in 2009, and reviewed in 2012) seeks to answer questions regarding the competitive market space for laptop computers as if it was from Samsung's perspective. Samsung had a solid competitive position in the market, and was looking at whether to increase R&D spending to bolster that market against Toshiba (which had recently received a number of laptop related patents).

The analysis, based entirely on implicit and explicit information mined solely from patent data, suggested that Samsung had sufficient technology investment in the market, and need not immediately increase laptop-related R&D.

In 2010, Samsung was considering abandoning the laptop market. However, in early 2011, it was readying war with Apple, and projected increasing laptop production by 80%.

At the CES in February 2012, Samsung, lagging Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and Asus, set it's goal to be the world market leader.

In 2009, we projected that Samsung had the lion's share of technology in the laptop domain, and needed to simply monitor competitor's patent activity.

We also projected that Toshiba would not be a competitive threat to Samsung. In 2012, Toshiba is not listed in the "Top 6" laptop makers.

Andy Gibbs' Case Study was first published in April, 2009,

Patent-based Competitive Analysis


COMPETITIVE TARGET: Toshiba US Patent 5,481,430; Portable Computer Having Keyboard and Coordinate Input Tablet Hingedly Connected to a Main Body Case Through A Groove

OBJECTIVE: Determine Samsung's R&D Strategy With Regard To Future Portable Computer Development


  1. Is the laptop market is still growing strong?
  2. How does Samsung compare to competitor: Toshiba in this market segment?
  3. Is the Toshiba '430 patent a serious threat to Samsung - does Samsung need to design-around?
  4. Does Samsung already have a significant ownership in this technology area?
  5. If Samsung decides to invest in more R&D, it can start quickly based on past technology advancements.


EXPLICIT PATENT INFORMATION: Review bibliographic information available directly from the patent.

  • Applicant: Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba, Kawasaki, Japan
  • Abstract: A main body case for storing a keyboard and an upper case for storing an integrated display/input device are coupled by first and second hinge units, disposed through a groove in the main body case, to be arbitrarily pivotal from a state wherein the keyboard faces the integrated display/input device to a state wherein the back surfaces of the keyboard and the integrated display/input device face each other.
  • Inventors: Miyagawa, Shigenori, Kobayashi, Koichi, Kunii, Shimpei, Kamio, Shizuo, Sakamoto, Hiroyuki, Sato, Fumitaka, Ishiura, Ryoichi
  • Issued/pub date: 1/2/1996
  • Filing date: 12/22/1994
  • Legal status: Enforceable; expire date: 12/22/2014
  • Claims: 1. A portable computer comprising: a keyboard for inputting data; a main body case encasing said keyboard; an integrated display/input device, said integrated display/input device having a display device for displaying data and a tablet for inputting coordinate data with said tablet overlaying a display surface of said display device; a …-
  • And other information contained on the 5,481,430 patent document.

IMPLICIT PATENT INFORMATION (patent information derived through analysis):
Toshiba is a competitor in the market.

Question 1: Should Samsung make additional R&D investment in this technology area?

Patent Information Analysis:

The Implicit information indicates that this is a continually growing technology area. The granted patent and published application trends both appear to be INCREASING, therefore investment IS JUSTIFIED if this is a market that we want to compete in.

Question 2: Does Samsung need to make additional R&D investments in this technology?

Chart Source: PatentCafe

Patent Information Analysis:

Perhaps NO. Samsung appears to already have a dominant technology position. However, Toshiba may have more patents pending that Samsung does not know about.

Question 3: What is the primary technology taught in Toshiba's Patent?

Patent Information Analysis:

Technology clustering of the top 100 most closely related patents shows what technology is incorporated in Toshiba's patent. Many methods taught in unrelated technology areas and unrelated products (underlined clusters) teach the core technology claimed in the Toshiba patent.

Technology Clusters:
• Cluster: Chairs And Seats, Collapsed To A Compact Bundle Having All Rigid Elongated Elements Extending In A Single Longitudinal Direction
• Cluster: Surgery, With Intermediate Pivot
• Cluster: Recording, Communication, Or Information Retrieval Equipment, Screen Attached At Rear Edge
• Cluster: Rotary Shafts, Gudgeons, Housings, And Flexible couplings For Rotary Shafts, Coupling Transmits Torque Via Semicylindrical Segments Separated By Pivot Pin (e.g., Slipper Bearing)
• Cluster: Tent, Canopy, Umbrella, Or Cane, Two Pivot Link
• Cluster: Land Vehicles: Bodies And Tops, Having Pivotal Means
• Cluster: Computer Graphics Processing And Selective Visual Display Systems, Backlight Control
• Cluster: Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing, For A Small Display Screen (e.g., Personal Digital Assistant, Palm-top)
• Cluster: Education And Demonstration, Letter-bearing Elements Slidable Between Different Grooves
• Cluster: Card, Picture, Or Sign Exhibiting, Having Rearwardly Pivoting Support Leg
• Cluster: Amusement Devices: Toys, Having Longitudinally Folded Or Creased Fuselage
• Cluster: Batteries: Thermoelectric And Photoelectric, Thermocouple Leads Having Disengageable Pressure-type Electrical Connectors
• Cluster: Firearms, Parallel Pivot


Question 4: Is the Toshiba '430 patent a Legal Threat to Samsung? A qualitative patent analysis will highlight '430 strengths and weaknesses.

Chart Source: PatentCafe

Patent Information Analysis:

We used a statistical analysis of the Toshiba '430 patent is statistically weak. This patent does not appear to be a competitive threat to Samsung.

Patent Analysis Product Used: PatentCafe Patent Factor Index Report.iv This report analyzed the legal, commercial and technological strength of the Toshiba '430 patent.

A copy of the full PFI Report for the '430 patent is available on request (PDF document).

Question 5: How many patents define the total marketplace for this primary technology?

Chart Source: PatentCafe

Patent Information Analysis: We use a Latent Semantic Analysis search engine to profile and relevancy-rank the top 20,000 patents most related to Toshiba’s technology. The first major Inflection Point (see above) that defines the shift from this technology occurs at 61%. About 1,211 of the most relevant 20,000 patents define the core technology.

Samsung already has a dominant position in this technology area, so further investment in R&D is probably not justified at this time.

Question 6: Can Samsung leverage prior art if it decides make additional investment in R&D?

Drawings Source: US 5481430

Patent Information Analysis: Yes - the Toshiba Patent teaches the design progression within this technology. By data mining other related patents, especially the information contained in the “Background of the Invention” and Cited References, Samsung engineers will be able to quickly identify solutions to problems that may be encountered during the new development process.

Question 7: Does Toshiba or Samsung own the majority of the most relevant art? If Samsung has a priority position, it may not need to invest further in the current technology evolution.

Chart Source: PatentCafe

Patent Information Analysis: Samsung owns more of the highly relevant patents in the laptop computer domain than Toshiba. It may not need to invest in further R&D in this area.

Summary of the Strategic Patent Information Analysis:
By Analyzing Explicit and Implicit Patent Information, Samsung has learned that:

  1. The laptop market is still growing strong.
  2. It already owns more patents related to Toshiba 5,481,430 than Toshiba owns.
  3. The Toshiba '430 patent is statistically weak – not considered a serious threat.
  4. It owns patents that apply to many technology areas.
  5. It has a respectable share of the top 1200 patents in the product domain.
  6. If it decides to invest in more R&D, it can start quickly based on past technology advancements.