IBM Tops the Patent Charts, Again

January 12, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – For the 20th year in a row, International Business Machines Corp has been named the number one assignee of patents in the United States, according to IFI CLAIMS Patent Services’ list of the 2012 Top 50 US Patent assignees.

IBM leads the chart with 6,478 patents granted in 2012, which is more than 20% more than its next closest competitor.  IBM brings in an estimated $1 billion a year from licensing its patent portfolio.  In addition to the income, IBM uses its portfolio of patents to protect itself from litigation brought on by competitors and patent-holding firms.

Not surprisingly, Samsung Electronics Co made the number two spot with 5,081 patents granted last year.  The top ten is rounded out with other technology giants, such as Sony, Panasonic, Microsoft, Toshiba and other popular electronics brands.

However, there are a few names that surprisingly did not come close to the top ten.  Apple Inc came in at number 22, with only 1136 patents granted in 2012.  Google, Apple’s patent war rival, came in just ahead in the number 21 spot with 1151 patents granted.   Though the technology giants are lower on the list, the two companies made the biggest climb from their rankings last year.  Apple jumped from the 39th to 22nd spot and Google made an astounding jump from the 65th to 21st spot.

Google’s numbers were likely boosted by its purchase of Motorola Mobility in May of last year.  However, it is clear that Google and Apple both see their patent portfolios as a major business tool, as seen by their jump in the rankings and their ongoing patent wars around the globe.

However seriously these companies may take their patent portfolios, they could still learn a thing or two from IBM.  Dr. Michael Karasick, a vice president and computer scientist at IBM, says he credits the company’s impressive portfolio to its diverse range departments, each of which is filled with employees with varying skill sets.

Dr. Karasick also credited IBM’s success to its ability to invent and patent technology that can be used in different disciplines.  One example is the patent it was granted last year which covered the technology used in the IBM Watson computer, which beat the human “Jeopardy!” champions in 2011.  The same technology is currently being tested as an automated assistant for physicians to aid in diagnosing diseases.

With strategies like that, it is no wonder IBM has been able to hold the number one spot for the 20th year in a row.