Patents approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office rose 31% in 2010 , according to IFI Claims Patent Services. The surge may have something to do with a pick-up of R&D after the recession. It could also be related to the increasing importance of patents as companies war with one another over intellectual property. These battles have become much more frequent in the handset and cellular market recently, but patent litigation seems to have increased across a broad spectrum
Six of the top ten companies based on patent approval by the Patent Office are headquartered outside the US. This should be a disturbing trend for the US R&D community. The patent grants to overseas firms went mostly to corporations based in Japan.
The top ten companies based on 2010 patents granted listed by a report from Bloomberg were:
1) IBM (NYSE: IBM) 5,896 patents granted in 2010: Often the top recipient of patents in the US, IBM has larger software and hardware operations and consistently works on advance semiconductors.
2) Samsung 4,551: The consumer electronics company is currently the No.2 producer of handsets in the world after Nokia (NYSE: NOK)
3) Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) 3,094: Still the largest software company in the world, it has begun to defend its Windows franchise by offering cloud computing systems. It is also locked in wars with Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) and SAP (NYSE: SAP) over global enterprise customers.
4) Canon 2,552: One of the world’s largest providers of enterprise office electronics.
5) Panasonic 2,482: The Japanese company is a large provider of enterprise hardware and consumer TVs
6) Toshiba 2,246: One of the world largest producers of consumer electronics products
7) Sony (NYSE: SNE). 2,150: A leader in digital cameras, multimedia players, and video game consoles
8) Intel (NASDAQ: INTC). 1,653: Still the largest chip company in the world. Intel is trying to protect its market share by migrating its processors from PCs to portable devices which is the growing part of the computing sector.
9) LG Electronics 1,490: Not only a consumer electronics company it is the No.3 producer of handsets in the world and has lagged in the smartphone sector.
10) Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ). 1,480: Printer and PCs are still among its largest businesses, but it has pressed into software and services to a large extent through its buyout of EDS.
Douglas A. McIntyre
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