International Business Machine Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was issued more patents in 2018 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) than any other company. It was granted 9,100, up 1% from 2017. The second company on the list, Samsung Electronics, was not even close, with 5,850.
According to the USPTO, “A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.” Patents are usually in force 20 years from the date that the patent is assigned. The patent grants are only effective in the United States, U.S. territories and U.S. possessions.
The IFI Claims Patent Services issues it reports of patent grants once a year, based on patents filed the year before. Among the top 10, several are not U.S. companies. Aside from Samsung, based in South Korea, Japan’s Canon ranks number three with 3,056. LG Electronics, based in South Korea, is number five on the list with 2,474. And Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing ranks number six with 2,465.
The U.S. companies among the top 10 include divisions of some well-known names. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) ranks number four with 2,735. Microsoft Technology Licensing ranks number seven with 2,353. Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) ranks number eight with 2,300. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) ranks number nine with 2,160, and Ford Global Technologies ranks number 10 with 2,123.
Among the top 50, almost all are technology companies, trailed by the research departments of automobile manufacturers.
The authors of the 2018 Patent Rankings and Trends report made several summary points. The USPTO granted 308,853 patents last year, down 35% from a record prior year. U.S. companies received 46% of the patents, followed by Asian companies, which had 31%, and European companies, which had 15%. China claimed the growth crown among individual nations. Companies from the People’s Republic were granted 12,589 patents, or 4% of the total by country. However, this figure was up 12%. Grants from companies in all other countries dropped.
IBM claims that 2018 was the 26th year it held the top of the list of U.S.-issued patents. Over that period, the company said that in all it topped the “110,000-patent milestone.” It added that many of these were related to “AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing.”
Finally, patent grants protect intellectual property, but they are no guarantee that this “property” will be used to create one or more commercially successful products. Over 300,000 patents granted in a single year is a huge number. Time will tell if they are valuable.
|Company||2018 Grants||2017 Grants||% Change|
|International Business Machines Corp||9,100||9,043||1|
|Samsung Electronics Co Ltd||5,850||5,837||0|
|LG Electronics Inc||2,474||2,701||-8|
|Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) Ltd||2,465||2,425||2|
|Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC||2,353||2,441||-4|
|Ford Global Technologies LLC||2,123||1,868||14|
|Amazon Technologies Inc||2,035||1,963||4|
|Toyota Motor Corp||1,959||1,932||1|
|Samsung Display Co Ltd||1,948||2,273||-14|
|Huawei Technologies Co Ltd||1,680||1,474||14|
|BOE Technology Group Co Ltd||1,634||1,413||16|
|General Electric Co||1,597||1,577||1|
|Hyundai Motor Co||1,369||1,304||5|
|Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson AB||1,353||1,552||-13|
|Seiko Epson Corp||1,285||1,406||-9|
|Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co Ltd||1,254||1,338||-6|
|Robert Bosch GmbH||1,136||1,234||-8|
|Mitsubishi Electric Corp||1,106||1,151||-4|
|GM Global Technology Operations LLC||1,046||1,066||-2|
|Ricoh Co Ltd||1,043||1,145||-9|
|United Technologies Corp||1,011||494||105|
|AT&T Intellectual Property I LP||985||946||4|
|Honda Motor Co Ltd||926||910||2|
|Micron Technology Inc||924||802||15|
|Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co Ltd||870||977||-11|
|Cisco Technology Inc||848||967||-12|
|Koninklijke Philips NV||844||905||-7|
|Halliburton Energy Services Inc||807||738||9|
|EMC IP Holding Co LLC||801||646||24|
|SK Hynix Inc||801||942||-15|
|Texas Instruments Inc||785||923||-15|
|Honeywell International Inc||749||856||-13|
|Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd||743||566||31|
|Toshiba Memory Corp||700||216||224|
|Oracle International Corp||685||753||-9|
|LG Display Co Ltd||681||605||13|
|Dell Products LP||668||623||7|
Courtesy of IFI Claims Patent Services.