Special Report

The Most Innovative Companies in the World

5. Microsoft Corp
> 2013 patent grants: 2,660
> Country: United States
> Sales: $72.9 billion
> Size: 41st largest

Microsoft increased its investment in research and development, from $9 billion in fiscal 2011, to more than $10 billion in fiscal 2013. Microsoft was the second biggest U.S.-based patent-earner last year after IBM. At the end of the fiscal year, the software company had been issued more than 35,000 U.S. and International patents, and had more than 38,000 patents pending. The company is perhaps best known for its Windows operating system and Xbox game console.

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4. Sony Corp
> 2013 patent grants: 3,098
> Country: Japan
> Sales: $78.5 billion
> Size: 506th largest

The USPTO granted Japan-based Sony more than 3,000 patents in 2013. At this year’s CES, Sony presented the “Core,” a small, wearable device designed to track and log the user’s actions throughout the day. Sony is perhaps best known for its consumer electronics, including its televisions, computers, and PlayStation video game consoles. The recently launched PS4 has broken company sales records and outsold its competitors, the company reported this month.

3. Canon K K
> 2013 patent grants: 3,825
> Country: Japan
> Sales: $40.1 billion
> Size: 181st largest

Canon led all Japanese companies in patents granted in 2013, with 3,825. The company’s three main divisions are its Office unit, which includes devices such as printers as well as software; its Imaging System unit, which includes cameras and broadcast equipment; and its Industry and Others unit, which includes medical imaging technology. Much of the company’s research and development activity focuses on optical technology and imaging. The number of U.S. patents awarded to Canon has been awarded has risen in each of the last five years.

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2. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
> 2013 patent grants: 4,675
> Country: Korea
> Sales: $187.8 billion
> Size: 20th largest

Samsung has finished each of the last six years as the nation’s second-largest patent recipient. The company has also been involved in a widely-publicized patent fight with Apple. According to Gartner, Samsung had a 32% smartphone market share and Apple a 12% share as of the third quarter of 2013. Samsung Electronics’ patent grants dipped by 8%, from 5,081 in 2012 to 4,675 last year. However, part of this may have to do with the mid-2012 spinoff of Samsung Display, which generated 1,270 patents this year.

1. International Business Machines Corp
> 2013 patent grants: 6,809
> Country: United States
> Sales: $104.5 billion
> Size: 34th largest

For the 21st year in a row, the USPTO granted IBM the most patents of any company in the world. with 6,809 patents awarded in 2013. In each year since 2008, IBM has been granted more patents than the year before. The company’s dominance in patents is likely due in part its emphasis on research and development. In 2012, IBM employed more than 8,000 inventors from all over the world. Recently, the company announced a $1 billion investment in a new business division based around Watson, a supercomputer at the forefront of artificial intelligence research. Three years ago, the supercomputer became famous for its appearance on the game show Jeopardy.

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