The Most Innovative Companies in the World

Print Email

10. LG Electronics
> 2012 patent grants: 1,624
> Country: South Korea
> Profits: -$0.4 billion
> Sales: $46.8 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -20.1%
> Size: 697th largest in the world

LG Electronics is one of the largest electronics manufacturers in Japan, behind companies like Samsung, Hitachi and Toshiba. This branch of the massive LG Holding Corp is one of the leading producers of televisions, washers and dryers, refrigerators and mobile handsets. Earlier this week at CES, the company announced it would begin delivering the highly-anticipated next-generation organic light-emitting diode television, or OLED TV this February. With its 1,624 patents granted in 2012, the company has returned to the top 10 patent earners, after a brief hiatus in 2011.

9. General Electric
> 2012 patent grants: 1,652
> Country: United States
> Profits: $14.2 billion
> Sales: $147.3 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -40.57%
> Size: 3rd largest in the world

America’s largest, and most iconic electronics corporation, General Electric has made somewhat of a comeback on the innovation front in the past few years. GE finally returned to the top 10 patent earners in 2012 for the first time since 2002, after being 11th in 2011. The company appears to have gained ground in innovation in alternative energy vehicles and products. According to Business Green, GE was awarded the second-most patents last year for alternative energy patents, including solar energy, fuel cells and wind energy production.

8. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.
> 2012 patent grants: 2,013
> Country: Taiwan
> Profits: $2.6 billion
> Sales: $102.6 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change:  -51.58%
> Size: 156th largest in the world

Hon Hai Precision, better known by most Americans by its trade name, Foxconn, is the largest company in Taiwan with over $100 million in sales in 2012. The company increased its patent grants by 33% in 2012, moving it from ninth in patent awards in 2011 to eighth in 2012. At the end of last year, the company further added to its portfolio, buying the flat panel patent inventory of fellow display company NEC for the equivalent of $122 million. While the company has been awarded more patents, its shares fell by more than 10% in the past year.

7. Toshiba
> 2012 patent grants: 2,447
> Country: Japan
> Profits: $1.7 billion
> Sales: $77.0 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -57.4%
> Size: 205th largest in the world

Toshiba, another Japanese tech company, produces a wide variety of products, which may help explain why it was granted nearly 2,500 patents last year. Included in its product line are consumer electronics such as televisions, phones, and laptop computers, networking components, and even medical equipment like X-ray machines. The company has apparently been innovating heavily in photography components, developing compact flash devices and other chips for major photography companies such as Nikon. Shares are down by well over 50% in the past five years.

6. Microsoft Corp.
> 2012 patent grants: 2,613
> Country: United States
> Profits: $17.0 billion
> Sales: $73.7 billion
> 5-yr. stock price change: -26.7%
> Size: 42nd largest in the world

Microsoft’s innovation has struggled the past few years. The total patents the company received has increased by about 300 last year, but this comes after major drop-off in 2011 that caused it to be surpassed by Japanese companies Canon, Panasonic and Toshiba. Like last year, it remains the sixth-biggest patent earner in the world, and the second biggest in the U.S. The company’s stock has underperformed the market, and is down more than 15% since March. Motorola Mobility, which is owned by Google, just dropped litigation it had pending against Microsoft, after claiming the company had infringed on two patents to make the Xbox.