IBM was granted a record 8,088 patents in 2016, tops list for 24th year

11 Jan 2017

IBM inventors were granted on average 22 patents a day during 2016. Image: Eti Ammos/Shutterstock

IBM was granted a record 8,088 patents in 2016 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, marking its 24th year at the top of the list.

The IBM innovation engine continued to crank out those prized patents in 2016, followed by Samsung with 5,518 patents and Canon with 3,665 patents.

This is the first time that any company received more than 8,000 patents in a single year.

The 2016 patent data was provided by IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, with the overall output covering a diverse range of inventions.

Notably, IBM’s tally includes more than 2,000 patents in artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and cognitive computing.

According to an IBM spokesman, the company is investing significantly in R&D in Ireland, in particular around AI, cybersecurity and cognitive healthcare.

Big Blue makes quite a patent haul

The patent haul by IBM equates to more than 22 patents a day.

“Leading the world in innovation for 24 years in a row does not happen by accident,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chair, president and CEO.

“IBM’s commitment to innovation and R&D remains unmatched –reflected in this year’s new US patent record, breaking the 8,000 barrier for the first time.

“We are deeply proud of our inventors’ unique contributions to the discovery, science and technology that [is] driving progress across business and society, and opening the new era of cognitive business,” Rometty said.

It is understood that more than 8,500 IBM inventors in 47 countries are responsible for the tally.

Among the inventions patented in 2016 were: a tool that uses images to better gage heart health, a personalised hearing aid that distinguishes sound intelligently, the use of machine learning to get the ground truth, a travel planner that selects routes suited to your state of mind, and a drone that can clean hospitals, farms and manufacturing floors.

The top 10 list of 2016 US patent recipients is as follows:

  1. IBM – 8,088
  2. Samsung Electronics – 5,518
  3. Canon – 3,665
  4. Qualcomm – 2,897
  5. Google – 2,835
  6. Intel – 2,784
  7. LG Electronics – 2,428
  8. Microsoft – 2,398
  9. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co – 2,288
  10. Sony – 2,181

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years