An interesting study was published (PDF) about the number of patens companies competing in the 5G space have been granted till the 1st of January of 2020. The situation might be different now, considering that Nokia, for example, added 50% new patent family declarations in the last 6 months.
The study was conducted by TU Berlin university together with IPlytics company that has a solution for tracking patents from different databases across the world. The study, which analyzed data gathered on 1st January of 2020, shows Samsung as the leader of granted 5G patent families with 1728 patent families, followed by Nokia with 1584 granted patent families and LG with 1415 granted patent families.
A patent family is the same set of patents describing an invention protected in different regional patent offices. A patent is granted when the patent authority approves the patent. Companies can declare patents they think are inventions, but declaration is not a guarantee of getting the invention patented.
When looking at 5G patents, we should also note the value of patents and not just the quantity. In February, IEEE Spectrum released its patent power metric data showing that Nokia has more valuable patents than Huawei or Ericsson, but less valuable compared to US companies Qualcomm and Cisco.