Special Report

The World's Most Innovative Companies

10. Panasonic Corp
> 2014 patent grants: 2,095
> Country: Japan
> Sales: $64.7 billion

Panasonic Corporation, based in Japan, was awarded nearly 2,100 patents last year, 19% less than the year before. Panasonic was one of only a handful to report a decline. Dwindling resources may explain in part the slowdown in innovation. While net sales rose last fiscal year, they fell annually between fiscal 2010 and 2013, when many patents awarded this year were filed. At any rate, the company’s spending on R&D has fallen steadily since at least 2011. Like most of the world’s most innovative companies, Panasonic offers a range of electronic products and services, including TVs and digital cameras. Nokia Networks recently announced that it had acquired a portion of Panasonic’s wireless network business with the stated intention of becoming “the highest quality and most innovative mobile broadband company.”

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9. LG Electronics
> 2014 patent grants: 2,122
> Country: South Korea
> Sales: $54.7 billion

While LG is no longer one of the dominant producers of handheld phones as it once was, it has become a world leader in TVs, where it has refocused much of its R&D spending. The company introduced its new Web-connected smart TV at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early last year. LG Electronics was awarded 2,122 patents last year, up 8% from the year before. LG is the second largest technology company in South Korea behind only Samsung. According to The Korea Herald, the company now has the most long-term evolution (LTE) technology patents worldwide. The extremely valuable mobile broadband technology is behind the fourth generation (4G) networks most Americans are familiar with.

8. Google Inc
> 2014 patent grants: 2,566
> Country: United States
> Sales: $67.9 billion

Google appears among the 10 most innovative companies for the first time this year, with 2,566 patents awarded in 2014, a 39% increase from the year before, and a 829% increase compared to 2010, when the company filed just 276 patents. Both were among the largest increases reviewed. Google’s dramatic revenue growth of the past several years has likely helped the company increase its R&D spending. Google spent more than $7.9 billion in fiscal 2013 on R&D, compared to less than $6.6 billion in the previous fiscal year. Google is widely regarded as an especially creative and innovative company, and many have tried to duplicate its management strategy.