Tuesday, 13 January 2015 04:44

IBM retains lead in patent race Featured

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IBM is not  the company it once was, but its deep R&D background means it still files more patents in the US than any other company. Samsung, Canon and Sony are next.

Patent services company IFI Claims has released its annual list of the top US patent recipients. The list is totally dominated by IT companies, as it usually is.

The company has posted the official 2014 IFI CLAIMS Top 50, a ranking of global companies and organisations to receive the most utility patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), regarded as the most important globally.

Calendar 2014 saw annual US patent grants increase by more than 8%, reaching an all-time high of 300,678 and surpassing the 300,000 mark for the first time. IFI’s tabulation places IBM at the top of the list, where it has been for 22 consecutive years.

Receiving 7,534 patents – up 10.6% over 2013 – IBM is the first company to break the 7,000 barrier for a single year. Samsung is second with 4,952, up 5.9%; Canon is third, up 6%; Sony fourth, up 4%; and Microsoft fifth, up 6.3%.

A total of 19 US-based companies appear on the 2014 IFI Top 50, up from 18 in 2013 and 17 in 2011 and 2012. Google enters the top ten for the first time in eighth position – up a remarkable 38.6%—trailing chipmaker Qualcomm by just 21 patents and only 263 patents shy of Microsoft in fifth spot.

Apple, at number 11, makes impressive gains as it continues its push toward the top ten, increasing its patent counts by 12.8%, just ahead of General Electric and 92 patents short of tenth placed Panasonic.

"It was a very good year for US patents in terms of growth,” said IFI Claims CEO Mike Baycroft. “It was a particularly good year for US firms, and saw major gains from many of the top patent-generators, whereas overall foreign holdings of US patents has held steady at roughly 49%."

In addition to the 2014 IFI CLAIMS Top 50, a collection of 2014 Patent Trends and Insights is available on the IFI website. Free access to the IFI Claims Top 1,000 rankings, a multi-year analysis of global patentees to receive the most US utility grants, is available by registering on the company’s website. The company’s full analysis comprises patent data on more than 7,000 companies and organisations.

Some key trends:

  • Growth in US  patent grants has slowed year-over-year from 12.8% in 2012, 9.7% in 2013, to 8.2% in 2014/
  • Whereas the number of patent assignees with 2014 grants has increased, the number of new assignees as a percentage of all assignees continues to decline. New assignees accounted for roughly 9% of new patent grants down from 9.5% in 2013 and 10.4% in 2012.
  • Japanese holdings of US patent grants continue to decline, with 18.1% in 2014 down roughly 2.5% over the past 5 years. Chinese holdings have doubled over the same period of time, but they still account for only 2% of all 2014 grants.
  • The US has more firms in the Top 50 than any other single country with 19, up from 18 in 2013 and 17 in 2012 and 2011. Japan is second with 18 firms.
  • 42 companies in the Top 50 saw an increase in patent production over last year as compared to 37 in 2013. 24 companies saw double-digit or better percentage rate growth.
  • The Top 50 generated 82,092 patents – approximately 27% of the total.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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