The top 50 US patent recipients in 2015 lists IBM and Samsung as the companies receiving the highest number of patents during the year, with Cannon coming in at third place. The full list of 50 most innovative companies and the number of patents they received can be found at this link.
Big gainers in the list include Qualcomm, Google, LG Electronics and Intel. Toshiba increased its counts slightly to keep hold of the number 6 position. The analysis shows downward momentum for some including Sony, Panasonic Corp. and Microsoft. Apple’s counts decreased three percent over 2014 but its ranking went unchanged.
A list of the top 50 German patent assignees (granted by the German Patent and Trademark Office) has also been published – a full list is available here. The top five in Germany are GM Global Technology Operations with 436 patents granted, Siemens (433 patents granted), Audi (372 patents), Robert Bosch (283 patents) and Schaeffler Technologies (247 patents).
In the US list, after seven straight years of increases, 2015 is the first year since 2007 to show a downturn in US patent activity. There were 298,407 utility patents granted for the calendar year, which is down just less than one percent compared to 2014. Even perennial patent leader IBM is down slightly compared to 2014, while Samsung and Canon maintain their 2014 slots with small gains over the prior year.
A total of 20 US-based companies appear on the 2015 top 50 list for the US – America’s largest share of that list in more than a decade. Arguably the most notable gainer among American companies in the top 50 is Amazon Technologies, which moves up 24 places from number 50 to number 26.
IBM received 7,355 patents in 2015, representing a diverse range of inventions as well as a strong and growing focus on cognitive solutions and the cloud platform as the company positions itself for leadership in a new era of computing.
“IBM’s investments in R&D continue to shape the future of computing through cognitive computing and the cloud platform that will help our clients drive transformation across multiple industries,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO. “IBM’s patent leadership demonstrates our unparalleled commitment to the fundamental R&D necessary to drive progress in business and society.”
In the area of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, IBM inventors developed new technologies that can help machines learn, reason, and efficiently process diverse data types while interacting with people in natural and familiar ways. For example:
- Helping machines understand emotion: For most of the history of computing, humans have had to play by the machines’ rules – mostly typing or pushing buttons to make ourselves understood. In the cognitive era, machines will increasingly listen and talk to us. A group of scientists from IBM Research’s China lab patented a system that helps machines interpret emotion-laden words so they can converse with us in more natural ways. (Patent US9117446).
- Helping computers learn from us: Unlike conventional computers, cognitive systems can learn from experience. A team invented technology that helps computers understand language by interacting with humans. The goal is to help computers figure out whether they’re interacting with a human or a machine. The invention then could be used by a beb site that sells tickets to events to weed out bots controlled by scalpers, for example. (Patent US9146917).
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 (from the company that produces the lists), 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.”