Special Report

The Most Innovative Companies in the World

10. LG Electronics Inc.
> 2013 patent grants: 1,947
> Country: Korea
> Sales: $45.3 billion
> Size: 730th largest

LG , one of the largest companies in South Korea, produces and sells products ranging from cellphones, to refrigerators, washers, and TVs. The company recently unveiled technology that combines its expertise in producing various products and appliances. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), LG previewed a new system, called “HomeChat,” that allows household appliances to communicate with their owners via text message. Rival Samsung also unveiled similar technology.

> 2013 patent grants: 2,103
> Country: United States
> Sales: $20.5 billion
> Size: 164th largest

Qualcomm is one of the world’s top semiconductor producers, as well as one of the largest providers of wireless software. Not only had Qualcomm registered the ninth-most patents in 2013, but its patent output has grown by 635% over the past five years. Rather than manufacturing its products from company-owned factories, Qualcomm primarily sells its designs under licensing agreements. At the recent CES, Qualcomm unveiled the latest edition of one of its core brands, the Snapdragon processor.

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8. Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.
> 2013 patent grants: 2,279
> Country: Taiwan
> Sales: $132.1 billion
> Size: 113th largest

Through a vast network of holding companies, Hon Hai controls Foxconn Technology Group, which helps companies in developing, designing and manufacturing products. — and as a result received 2,279 patents in 2013, more than all but seven other companies. Foxconn’s manufacturing operations have attracted the most attention, however, due to criticism over working conditions at the company’s sprawling factories. Recently, the company invested millions into U.S.-based high tech manufacturing operations. Founder Terry Gou is among the wealthiest people in Taiwan.

7. Toshiba Corp.
> 2013 patent grants: 2,416
> Country: Japan
> Sales: $73.7 billion
> Size: 263rd largest

Many Americans know Toshiba as a computer and television maker. However, the company’s operations extend well beyond consumer products. Digital products and electronics accounted for only 44% of the company’s sales in fiscal 2012. The company is also involved in energy, infrastructure, and health care technology. Toshiba’s broad range of businesses likely helped it generate more than 2,400 patents in 2013.

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6. Panasonic Corp.
> 2013 patent grants: 2,601
> Country: Japan
> Sales: $94.8 billion
> Size: 557th largest

Japanese company Panasonic produces a range of consumer electronics, but is perhaps best known for its televisions and cameras. Unlike many of the most innovative companies, Panasonic’s successful patent applications decreased in 2013 compared to the year before, down from 2,769 in 2012 to 2,601 last year. At the recent CES, Panasonic unveiled a number of new innovations. Among these were a massive, wave-shaped television as well as a high-resolution tablet aimed at professional graphic artists.

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