Special Report

The Most Innovative Companies in 2021

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One of the primary measures of innovation is the number of patents someone is granted. For example, Thomas Edison, widely considered to be one of America’s most prolific inventors, held nearly 1,100 patents – a world record for much of the 20th century, though it has since been broken numerous times by others. 

The volume of patents is also one of the primary metrics used to compare innovation between companies and countries.

Apple Inc., currently holds more than 70,000 patents globally, for instance, including nearly 2,600 that were filed last year. But the Cupertino, California-based creator of the iPhone didn’t make it onto the top 10 companies with the most patents filed in 2021. Several other major companies, including Toyota, Samsung, Huawei, and IBM all filed more patents than Apple last year. (These are the most popular phones of all time.)

Click here to see the most innovative companies in 2021

Not all patents are the same and many of them are for innovations that are never used. Some patents are for design – the ornamental appearance of a product, like its shape, configuration, or ornamentation. Others are for utility, meaning the way a product is used and works. Many products are covered by both types of patents if the invention’s unique quality resides in both its utility and appearance. Generally speaking, though, a utility patent is considered more valuable because the utility aspect of a product is the hardest part to invent. (Here are 19 commercial products invented by the military.)

To determine the companies with the most patents in 2021, as well as the percentage of patents over or under the number granted in 2020, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2022 Patent 300 report published by the patent insights resource Harrity Patent Analytics. Information on the function of the latest patent for each company came from the legal information retrieval site Justia.

Source: Dan Krauss / Getty Images

40. Cisco Systems, Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 1,007
> Change from 2020: -12%
> Most recent patent: Cable TV network broadband access system with distributed deployment and centralized control

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39. Robert Bosch Gmbh
> 2021 utility patents: 1,020
> Change from 2020: -7%
> Most recent patent: Method and device for handling an anomaly in a communication network

Source: Lennart Preiss / Getty Images

38. Siemens AG
> 2021 utility patents: 1,043
> Change from 2020: -22%
> Most recent patent: Method for enriching data in measurement data records of a low-voltage network

Source: drnadig / E+ via Getty Images

37. The United States of America Federal Government
> 2021 utility patents: 1,056
> Change from 2020: -5%
> Most recent patent: N/A

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36. AT&T Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 1,075
> Change from 2020: -26%
> Most recent patent: Network-assisted secure data access

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35. Toshiba Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 1,100
> Change from 2020: -16%
> Most recent patent: Calculation device, display device, and computer program product

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34. Denso Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 1,103
> Change from 2020: -9%
> Most recent patent: System and method for collaborative centralized latency characterization

33. SK Group
> 2021 utility patents: 1,109
> Change from 2020: +2%
> Most recent patent: N/A

Source: JHVEPhoto / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

32. Medtronic Plc
> 2021 utility patents: 1,165
> Change from 2020: -19%
> Most recent patent: Stimulation vector selection using pulse width data

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31. Meta Platforms, Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 1,196
> Change from 2020: -22%
> Most recent patent: Systems and methods for message-based interaction

Source: Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Images

30. Honda Motor Company, Ltd.
> 2021 utility patents: 1,216
> Change from 2020: No change
> Most recent patent: Methods and systems for mounting inspection devices

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29. Seiko Epson Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 1,229
> Change from 2020: -8%
> Most recent patent: Liquid container and liquid ejection system

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28. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 1,289
> Change from 2020: -2%
> Most recent patent: Gas-insulated bus

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27. The Boeing Company
> 2021 utility patents: 1,304
> Change from 2020: -11%
> Most recent patent: Private key security in the cloud

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26. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
> 2021 utility patents: 1,402
> Change from 2020: +2%
> Most recent patent: Methods, network node, and wireless device for discontinuous transmission

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

25. Fujifilm Holdings Corp
> 2021 utility patents: 1,421
> Change from 2020: +2%
> Most recent patent: Solid state imaging device incorporating a light shielding film having openings of different sizes

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24. Hyundai Motor Company
> 2021 utility patents: 1,483
> Change from 2020: -9%
> Most recent patent: Connector apparatus

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23. Hitachi, Ltd.
> 2021 utility patents: 1,497
> Change from 2020: +2%
> Most recent patent: Imaging apparatus

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22. Johnson & Johnson
> 2021 utility patents: 1,506
> Change from 2020: +1%
> Most recent patent: Extensible dressings

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21. General Electric Company
> 2021 utility patents: 1,525
> Change from 2020: -37%
> Most recent patent: Method of optimizing the limitation of dust emissions for gas turbines fueled with heavy fuel oil

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20. Ford Motor Company
> 2021 utility patents: 1,675
> Change from 2020: -20%
> Most recent patent: Aluminum alloy header plate with ceramic coating for battery assembly

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19. Panasonic Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 1,715
> Change from 2020: -11%
> Most recent patent: Communication device and radio communication system

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18. Micron Technology Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 1,798
> Change from 2020: +17%
> Most recent patent: Integrated circuitry, a method used in forming integrated circuitry, and a method used in forming a memory array comprising strings of memory cells

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

17. Alphabet Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,015
> Change from 2020: -15%
> Most recent patent: Dynamics processing effect architecture

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16. Dell Technologies
> 2021 utility patents: 2,053
> Change from 2020: +2%
> Most recent patent: Modular data center power distribution system

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15. Amazon.Com, Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,110
> Change from 2020: -11%
> Most recent patent: Management of allocated computing resources in networked environment

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14. Boe Technology Group Co., Ltd.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,141
> Change from 2020: -1%
> Most recent patent: Cap manipulator and cap assembly

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13. Qualcomm
> 2021 utility patents: 2,165
> Change from 2020: -6%
> Most recent patent: Secure global navigation satellite systems

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12. Microsoft Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 2,453
> Change from 2020: -17%
> Most recent patent: Content sharing with user and recipient devices

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11. Apple Inc.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,591
> Change from 2020: -9%
> Most recent patent: Synchronization signal block based beam failure detection

Source: Junko Kimura / Getty Images

10. Sony Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 2,624
> Change from 2020: -9%
> Most recent patent: To reduce interference between wake-up signalling transmissions from different base stations

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9. Raytheon Technologies Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 2,694
> Change from 2020: -16%
> Most recent patent: Arcuate seed casting method

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8. Toyota Jidosha K.K.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,753
> Change from 2020: -2%
> Most recent patent: Manufacturing method of belt-shaped electrode plate, manufacturing method of cell, and electrode plate manufacturing apparatus

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7. Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg. Co. Ltd.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,807
> Change from 2020: -3%
> Most recent patent: Package structure and method of manufacturing the same

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6. Intel Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 2,835
> Change from 2020: -14%
> Most recent patent: Block cipher encryption for processor-accelerator memory mapped input/output communication

Source: Sundry Photography / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

5. Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
> 2021 utility patents: 2,955
> Change from 2020: -7%
> Most recent patent: Method and apparatus of communications

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4. Canon K.K.
> 2021 utility patents: 3,400
> Change from 2020: -8%
> Most recent patent: Image forming apparatus

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3. LG Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 4,388
> Change from 2020: -14%
> Most recent patent: Method for providing system information to remote UE in wireless communication system and apparatus therefor

Source: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

2. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
> 2021 utility patents: 8,517
> Change from 2020: No change
> Most recent patent: Method for RF communication connection using electronic device and user touch input

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1. International Business Machines Corporation
> 2021 utility patents: 8,540
> Change from 2020: -9%
> Most recent patent: Mixed-reality teleconferencing across multiple locations

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