IBM Tops Patent List, Followed by Samsung and Canon

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According to research firm IFI CLAIMS Patent Service, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) led all recipients of U.S. patents in 2015, at 7,355 out of 298,407 utility patents granted.

The rate at which patent grants have improved in number has ended:

“After seven straight years of prolific patent growth, 2015 saw the first sign of de-acceleration,” said Mike Baycroft, CEO, IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. “I wouldn’t suggest though that the patent train is losing momentum as many companies continue to crank out more patents than the previous year. That historic seven-year run was remarkable especially when you consider that IBM, Samsung and Canon each generate more than twice as many patents now as they did a decade ago.”

South Korea’s Samsung was granted 5,072 patents, followed by Japan’s Canon at 4,134. In fourth place, American mobile hardware and software company Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) was granted 2,900, followed by Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google at 2,835.

Among the reasons some companies posted a drop:

Several Top 50 companies dropped considerably lower in the rankings, but not solely because they generated fewer patents. One of the reasons for the seismic shifts this year, according to Larry Cady, IFI CLAIMS Patent Services Senior Analyst, is due to where patents are being parked.

“Rather than keeping all corporate patents under a single registration, some companies are choosing to spread their portfolios across multiple entities,” said Cady. “This is why we are seeing such dramatic movement this year with Microsoft and Panasonic, which all started assigning some patents to newly formed holding companies.”

While grants have flattened, the philosophy about where they end up has changed the counting process considerably.