IBM shatters US patent record for 18th year

11 Jan 2011

IBM inventors received a record 5,896 US patents in 2010, marking the 18th consecutive year it has topped the list of the world’s most inventive companies.

The company became the first company to be granted as many as 5,000 US patents in a single year. It took IBM’s inventors more than 50 years to receive their first 5,000 patents after the company was established in 1911.

IBM received patents for a range of inventions in 2010, such as:

·         A method for gathering, analysing and processing patient information from multiple data sources to provide more effective diagnoses of medical conditions;

·         A system for predicting traffic conditions based on information exchanged over short-range wireless communications; a technique that analyses data from sensors in computer hard drives to enable faster emergency response in the event of earthquakes and other disasters; and,

·         A technology advancement for enabling computer chips to communicate using pulses of light instead of electrical signals, which can deliver increased performance of computing systems.

More than 7,000 IBM inventors residing in 46 US states and 29 countries generated the company’s record-breaking 2010 patent tally. Inventors residing outside the US contributed to more than 22pc of the company’s patents in 2010, representing a 27pc increase over international inventor contributions during the last three years. IBM spends about $6bn in R&D annually.

2010 US patent leaders

1.       IBM – 5,896

2.       Samsung – 4,551

3.       Microsoft – 3,094

4.       Canon – 2,552

5.       Panasonic – 2,482

6.       Toshiba – 2,246

7.       Sony – 2,150

8.       Intel – 1,653

9.       LG Electronics – 1,490

10.   HP – 1,480

“Patents, and the inventions they represent, reflect the commitment to innovation that has differentiated IBM and IBMers for a century,” said Kevin Reardon, general manager of Intellectual Property and vice-president of Research Business Development for IBM.

“Patent leadership is an important element of our high-value business strategy, which is focused on enabling instrumented, interconnected, intelligent infrastructures that can change how systems of all kinds work to support a smarter planet,” Reardon said.

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