This week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, some of the biggest companies in the world will debut the next generation of products and technology. The goods on display are the product of years of research and billions of dollars. And to protect their investments, companies file for patents on the next game changing device, software, or technology.
The U.S. Patent Office and Trademark Office awards hundreds of thousands of patents to companies each year. Today, IFI Claims Patent Services, a producer of patent databases, released its top 50 ranking of the companies awarded the most U.S. patents in 2012. Based on IFI’s list, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 most innovative companies in the world.
24/7 Wall St.’s review of the IFI list finds that producing the most patents does not ensure a successful business — frequently, it can mean the exact opposite. Some of the biggest patent recipients last year are barely profitable, or are losing money. These corporations may be ramping up research and development as their current brand falters. Sony’s patent awards are up substantially compared to 2011, but its shares are down by nearly 40% in the past 12 months, and the company lost more than $5 billion in the last fiscal year.
Meanwhile, several companies that didn’t make our list are among the most profitable companies in the world. Companies like Apple and Google saw major increases in patents awarded last year. Apple’s patents increased by 68% between 2011 and 2012. Google’s grew by an astounding 170%. These two companies remain well out of the top 10 for global patents awarded last year. Apple was 22nd, and Google was 21st.
Longevity is one of the reasons for Google and Apple’s absence, explained IFI Claims Patent Services CEO Mike Baycroft. “IBM, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft [all in the top 10], these guys have been invested in the patent game for a long time.” In research and development, he continued, “Google and Apple are startups.”
Another reason many of these companies make the list is the sheer range of industries in which they develop products. While they develop consumer electronics products, companies like General Electric, IBM and Toshiba also develop technology in alternative energy, medicine, and automotive.
In order to identify the 10 most innovative companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed top U.S. patent recipients in 2012 according to IFI’s annual reports. To illustrate how patent awards relate to company performance, we examined sales, profit and change in share price over the past five years for the top 10. We also examined how these companies compared within their industry and among the largest companies in the world based on the Forbes Global 2,000. All sales and revenue data are from company financial statements or from the 2012 Forbes Global 2,000.
These are the 10 most innovative companies of the year.