KBA again tops press manufacturers in US patent rankings
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Press release from the issuing company
According to the Wall Street Journal's September update of The Patent Board's Patent Scorecard for manufacturers of heavy industrial equipment* (see attached), KBA ranked 13th among the top 50, well ahead of its rivals. Of the globally active European players listed, KBA was only beaten by fellow German enterprise Voith (no. 4) and Swiss lift manufacturer Schindler (no. 12). The high ranking reflects the group's consistent focus on innovation as a pioneer of press engineering for the past 192 years.
KBA also had the highest ranking of the three major German press manufacturers in a list published in spring this year by the German Patent and Trademark Office, which ranked KBA 25 among the top 50 patent applicants, with 191 published patents. KBA's innovative energy extends from sheetfed offset, packaging and newspaper press technology to security printing, metal decorating and UV printing on electronic data storage devices.
Commenting on the outstanding ranking, KBA management stated that innovative, high-performance technology for every facet of print production will remain a core focus of group activities. KBA's solid financial status – with no net debts – compares well with that of other players in the sector, while its broad base embracing both mainstream and profitable niche markets, its cutting-edge product range with many unique features and its relative independence in corporate decision-making, largely uninfluenced by the interests of investors unfamiliar with the printing industry, mean that it is well positioned in a sector shaken by the global market slump.
Scale alone is no guarantee of success
KBA's ranking above its two bigger German rivals in the latest Patent Scorecard is evidence that scale alone cannot guarantee success. Despite, or perhaps because of the ongoing rumours of a merger by its two biggest rivals, KBA is confident that it can defend its position as a leading player in the global printing market, provided that politicians and the competent authorities observe the rules for fair competition.
In an editorial for the latest issue of KBA's corporate magazine, KBA Report, president and CEO Helge Hansen wrote: "The current market scenario is accelerating consolidation among suppliers to the print media industry, and KBA has been doing its part, even though the consequences have proven painful. While we are following with keen interest the press reports on merger negotiations between our two major German competitors, our confidence in our own strengths allows us to view the prospective outcome with equanimity. We can only assume that the competent competition commission is well aware of the potential issues associated with such a merger. Whether any conditions the authorities may impose will be sufficient to safeguard the interest of the market and the global printing industry in maintaining an effective form of competition is debatable, particularly if the state intervenes on a massive scale with financial aid."
In an interview at the end of September Hansen stated that, with growth prospects poor in the print media industry, KBA was contemplating new business ventures, possibly via acquisitions in high-potential sectors such as packaging technology, water conditioning or thermal solar energy technology. However, such a move would be undertaken with KBA's customary financial and entrepreneurial caution. As Hansen is quick to emphasise: "Size alone should not be the deciding factor."
*US patent consultancy The Patent Board regularly tracks seventeen industries on a global basis according to the number of patents awarded in the USA, the application of scientific knowledge, the speed at which patents are transformed into new products and the business value of patent assets. The individual companies are also assessed according to their technological strength and the intensity of their research activities. The Patent Board has over forty years' experience in patent analysis and evaluation.