The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies

January 28, 2019 by Mike Sauter

Source: Photo by Randy Montoya / Sandia National Laboratories / Getty Images

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued more than 300,000 utility patents in 2018. Though anyone can apply for a patent, large corporations tend to receive the most — more than one-fourth of patents in 2018 went to just 50 companies. These companies and their employees worked to revolutionize their industries and stay one step ahead of the competition.

A patent is a legal declaration of intellectual property, giving owners rights and exclusivity to its idea. It also prevents others from using, imitating, or selling that idea. Some companies were awarded thousands of patents in the last year alone.

To identify the 50 most innovative companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 1,000 companies that received the most utility 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.

Utility patents, which cover processes, items, machines, and other new and useful creations, are the most frequently awarded of the three types of patents. The other two are design patents, which protect visual characteristics, and plant patents, which cover to new species of plants.

Nearly all of the companies on the list primarily deal in electronics products such as semiconductors, computers, software, and telecommunications. There are also several well-known auto manufacturers like Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai that rank among the most innovative companies in the world.

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.

Source: Fensterblick. / Wikimedia Commons

50. GlobalFoundries Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 635
> 2017 patent grants: 854
> Country: Cayman Islands
> Products: Semiconductors

Source: Koichi Kamoshida / Getty Images

49. Sharp Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 643
> 2017 patent grants: 686
> Country: Japan
> Products: Televisions, home appliances, smartphones

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

48. Fujifilm Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 658
> 2017 patent grants: 695
> Country: Japan
> Products: Cameras, industrial products, medical systems

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

47. Dell Products LP
> 2018 patent grants: 668
> 2017 patent grants: 623
> Country: USA
> Products: Computers, servers, printers, software

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

46. Oracle
> 2018 patent grants: 703
> 2017 patent grants: 767
> Country: USA
> Products: Database software and cloud storage systems

Source: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

45. NEC Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 715
> 2017 patent grants: 819
> Country: Japan
> Products: IT and communications services

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Source: China Photos / Getty Images

44. Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 743
> 2017 patent grants: 566
> Country: Japan
> Products: Electronics, sensors, energy devices

Source: Markus Eigenheer from Genève / Wikimedia Commons

43. Honeywell International Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 749
> 2017 patent grants: 856
> Country: USA
> Products: Consumer products, aerospace engineering

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

42. Texas Instruments Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 785
> 2017 patent grants: 923
> Country: USA
> Products: Semiconductors, educational technology

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Source: D-Keine / Getty Images

40. EMC IP Holding Co LLC
> 2018 patent grants: 801
> 2017 patent grants: 645
> Country: USA
> Products: Electrical equipment

Source: Pool / Getty Images

40. SK Hynix Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 801
> 2017 patent grants: 942
> Country: South Korea
> Products: Semiconductors, memory chips

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Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

39. Halliburton Energy Services Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 807
> 2017 patent grants: 738
> Country: USA
> Products: Oilfield services

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

38. Koninklijke Philips NV
> 2018 patent grants: 844
> 2017 patent grants: 905
> Country: Netherlands
> Products: Lighting, televisions, personal health products

Source: David McNew / Getty Images

37. Cisco Technology Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 848
> 2017 patent grants: 967
> Country: USA
> Products: Software, routers, internet security

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Source: departmentofenergy / Flickr

35. Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 870
> 2017 patent grants: 973
> Country: Japan
> Products: Semiconductors

Source: Joerg Koch / Getty Images

35. Siemens AG
> 2018 patent grants: 870
> 2017 patent grants: 939
> Country: Germany
> Products: Home appliances, automation systems, healthcare technology

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Source: yoh4nn / Getty Images

34. Micron Technology Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 924
> 2017 patent grants: 802
> Country: USA
> Products: Computer accessories and storage

Source: Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

33. Honda Motor Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 926
> 2017 patent grants: 910
> Country: Japan
> Products: Automobiles

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

32. Hewlett Packard
> 2018 patent grants: 972
> 2017 patent grants: 981
> Country: USA
> Products: Computers, printers, information technology

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Source: Toby Jorrin / Getty Images

31. AT&T Intellectual Property I LP
> 2018 patent grants: 985
> 2017 patent grants: 946
> Country: USA
> Products: Telecommunications, entertainment, technology

Source: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

30. Denso Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 1,003
> 2017 patent grants: 929
> Country: Japan
> Products: Auto parts

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Source: USAF / Getty Images

29. United Technologies Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 1,011
> 2017 patent grants: 494
> Country: USA
> Products: Elevators, aerospace, security

Source: Junko Kimura / Getty Images

28. Fujitsu Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 1,038
> 2017 patent grants: 1,538
> Country: Japan
> Products: Semiconductors, operating systems, computer storage

Source: Rama / Wikimedia Commons

27. Ricoh Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 1,043
> 2017 patent grants: 1,145
> Country: Japan
> Products: Printers, cameras, watches, IT services

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Source: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

26. GM Global Technology Operations LLC
> 2018 patent grants: 1,046
> 2017 patent grants: 1,065
> Country: USA
> Products: Automobiles

Source: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

25. Mitsubishi Electric Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 1,106
> 2017 patent grants: 1,150
> Country: Japan
> Products: Automobiles, air conditioners, power generation systems

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Source: Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

24. Robert Bosch GmbH
> 2018 patent grants: 1,136
> 2017 patent grants: 1,234
> Country: Germany
> Products: Industrial technology, consumer electronics

Source: Stephen Brashear / Getty Images

23. Boeing Co
> 2018 patent grants: 1,227
> 2017 patent grants: 1,177
> Country: USA
> Products: Aerospace and military technology

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

22. Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 1,254
> 2017 patent grants: 1,338
> Country: Japan
> Products: Cameras, home appliances, televisions

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

21. Seiko Epson Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 1,285
> 2017 patent grants: 1,406
> Country: Japan
> Products: Printers, projectors, wearable products

Source: RFarrarons / Getty Images

20. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson AB
> 2018 patent grants: 1,353
> 2017 patent grants: 1,551
> Country: Sweden
> Products: IT services, public safety management, electronic components

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Source: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images

19. Hyundai Motor Co
> 2018 patent grants: 1,369
> 2017 patent grants: 1,303
> Country: South Korea
> Products: Automobiles

Source: poba / Getty Images

18. BoE Technology Group Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 1,634
> 2017 patent grants: 1,413
> Country: China
> Products: Data collection and processing

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

17. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 1,680
> 2017 patent grants: 1,474
> Country: China
> Products: Mobile phones, tablets, routers, IT infrastructure

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Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

16. General Electric
> 2018 patent grants: 1,716
> 2017 patent grants: 1,740
> Country: USA
> Products: Home appliances, jet engines, commercial lending

Source: Oli Scarff / Getty Images

15. Amazon Technologies Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 2,035
> 2017 patent grants: 1,962
> Country: USA
> Products: Consumer products, e-readers, TV and movie streaming

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Source: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

14. Ford Global Technologies LLC
> 2018 patent grants: 2,123
> 2017 patent grants: 1,868
> Country: USA
> Products: Automobiles

Source: Stephen Lam / Getty Images

13. Apple Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 2,160
> 2017 patent grants: 2,226
> Country: USA
> Products: Mobile phones, computers, tablets, software

Source: David Becker / Getty Images

12. Sony
> 2018 patent grants: 2,165
> 2017 patent grants: 2,672
> Country: Japan
> Products: Digital cameras, televisions, speakers, mobile phones

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Source: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

11. Google
> 2018 patent grants: 2,197
> 2017 patent grants: 2,706
> Country: USA
> Products: Search engine, internet browser, laptops

Source: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

10. Toshiba
> 2018 patent grants: 2,201
> 2017 patent grants: 2,032
> Country: Japan
> Products: Laptops, hard drives, digital displays, business solutions

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Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

9. Qualcomm Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 2,300
> 2017 patent grants: 2,626
> Country: USA
> Products: Semiconductors, cellular modems, telecommunications equipment

Source: Czech Wikipedia user Packa / Wikimedia Commons

8. Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC
> 2018 patent grants: 2,353
> 2017 patent grants: 2,441
> Country: USA
> Products: Software, operating systems, mobile phones

Source: Peellden / Wikimedia Commons

7. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) Ltd
> 2018 patent grants: 2,465
> 2017 patent grants: 2,424
> Country: Taiwan
> Products: Semiconductors

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Source: Junko Kimura / Getty Images

6. Toyota
> 2018 patent grants: 2,476
> 2017 patent grants: 2,441
> Country: Japan
> Products: Automobiles, automobile accessories

Source: Brian Ach / Getty Images

5. Canon Inc
> 2018 patent grants: 3,056
> 2017 patent grants: 3,284
> Country: Japan
> Products: Cameras, camcorders, printers

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Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

4. Intel
> 2018 patent grants: 3,322
> 2017 patent grants: 3,537
> Country: USA
> Products: Personal computers, consumer electronics, processors

Source: David Becker / Getty Images

3. LG
> 2018 patent grants: 4,198
> 2017 patent grants: 4,465
> Country: South Korea
> Products: Mobile phones, televisions, home appliances

Source: David McNew / Getty Images

2. Samsung
> 2018 patent grants: 8,568
> 2017 patent grants: 8,880
> Country: South Korea
> Products: Mobile phones, televisions, home appliances

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Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images

1. International Business Machines Corp
> 2018 patent grants: 9,100
> 2017 patent grants: 9,043
> Country: USA
> Products: Data management, IT services, application development

Detailed Findings

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.

Methodology

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.