Technology

The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued more than 300,000 utility patents in 2020. Though anyone can apply for a patent, large corporations tend to receive the most. More than one-fourth of patents in 2020 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 past 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 USPTO in 2020, 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 new species of plants.

Nearly all the companies on the list primarily deal in electronics products, such as semiconductors, computers, software and telecommunications. Some well-known auto manufacturers, like Ford, Toyota and Hyundai, also 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. Therefore, this number is 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.

Several companies jumped up the list this year compared to last. According to an analysis:

  • Kia Motors rose 58 places to number 41.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise moved up 28 places to number 48.
  • Facebook rose 22 places to 36th.
  • Micron Technology moved higher by nine places to 25th.
  • Huawei was up six places to number 10.
  • BOE Technology rose four places to 13th.
  • Microsoft moved up three places to the number four spot.