IBM tops the US’ patent assignees list with nearly 7,000 patents

14 Jan 2014

For the 21st year running, IBM has topped the US for the number of patents put forward for new products, with 6,809 patents issued for the company in 2013.

According to the figures released by patent analyst company IFI in the US, IBM is leading the way significantly in innovation, with Korean manufacturer Samsung following behind in second place with 4,675 patents.

This is an increase of 5pc by IBM over last year’s figure of 6,478 patents. Samsung, meanwhile, has decreased on last year, which showed 5,081 patents for 2012.

The biggest mover in the top 10 was QUALCOMM. The semiconductor company jumped eight places in the rankings, having applied for 2,103 patents last year compared with 1,292 in 2012, a leap of more than 62pc.

However, despite the US’ strong showing with IBM, only three US companies are in the top 10, with the other seven positions made up by Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese technology companies.

Google and Apple show growth

For the first time, giants Google and Apple have entered the top 20 positions for the first time, with Google leading the fray with 1,851 patents compared to Apple’s 1,775.

IFI’s CEO Mike Baycroft believes the lack of movement in the top 10 is a sign of these companies’ dominance in their markets. “There’s little change happening in the top 10 as most of the companies have been there for years, but as we move down list we start to see more jockeying and re-ordering.

“Below the top 50 we see the candidates that are likely to bubble up tomorrow, companies like Amazon, Verizon and China’s Huawei Technologies, to name a few.”

Interestingly, Baycroft and IFI have seen a big shift in the smaller numbers regarding patents which, he suggests, could be a sign of smaller start-ups and individuals having a greater influence and ability to develop new ideas and technology.

“If we look at all the nearly 60,000 assignees, only 62 grew by more than 500 patents and only 640 grew by more than 50, and that 1pc contributed more than 40pc of total new grants. What that indicates is tremendous amount of activity in the development of small patent portfolios. Are we starting to see signs that innovation is returning to the garage?”

Sites like Kickstarter encouraging the growth of small projects into realised ideas could be having a major influence on the future number of patents, as well.

Top 10 US patent numbers 2013 (IFI)
Rank Grants Company Country
1 6,809 IBM US
2 4,675 Samsung Korea
3 3,825 Canon Japan
4 3,098 Sony Japan
5 2,660 Microsoft US
6 2,601 Panasonic Japan
7 2,416 Toshiba Japan
8 2,279 Hon Hai Precision Taiwan
10 1,947 LG Korea

Copyright image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic