2017 was a record year for patents, with the USPTO issuing just over 320,000 patents, an all-time high. This year, the USPTO issued 308,853 patents, a 3.5% decline from last year. Yet this is still much higher than it was a decade ago. In 2009, there were less than 168,000 patents awarded. In each of the past five years, around 300,000 patents were awarded.
According to IFI Claims senior analyst Larry Cady, “Most of the growth can be attributed to the electronics industry, particularly computers and telecommunications.” As smartphones, computers, and other high tech devices have taken over the consumer marketplace, they have also “overwhelmed other areas like pharmaceuticals, chemicals and manufacturing … and other traditional industries,” Cady said.
Over 145,000 of the new utility patents filed in 2018 were in just five electronics categories: electrical digital data processing, transmission of digital information, semiconductors, wireless communication networks, and pictorial communication.
American companies occupy the most spots among the 50 most innovative companies, at 22. Japan has the second most companies, with 16. There are also four South Korean companies among the to 50 patent recipients.
To identify the 50 most innovative companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 1,000 companies that received the most patent grants from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2018, according to data provided by IFI Claims Patent Services. We then ranked the 50 companies with the most patents granted. IFI produces this data based on the entity listed as the patent holder, and that entity often is a division or subsidiary of the larger company. In order to arrive at a figure that more closely reflects a company’s total, 24/7 Wall St. totaled the grants awarded to a company and its subsidiaries. It is important to note that while IFI Claims Patent Services provided the data based on USPTO grants, 24/7 Wall St. aggregated the grants of multiple entities under the same parent corporation. This number is therefore an estimate as it excludes any patent-holding subsidiaries of a company that do not share the company’s name, and it does not include companies outside of the top 1,000 patent grantees.