IBM Leads in Patent Race

Tech companies top the list of 2003 patent holders as IBM extends its No. 1 ranking for the 11th time.

Technology companies continued to lead the pack of top patent recipients in 2003, with IBM racking in the most patents for the 11th straight year.

IBM received 3,415 U.S. patents in 2003, the most for any corporation and 70 percent more than the next highest patent recipient, according to a top 10 list released Monday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Armonk, N.Y., company surpassed the second-highest patent recipient, Canon Inc., by 1,423 patents. IBM and Canon were the top two patent recipients in 2002 as well.

IBM touted its top spot as an indication of its commitment to innovation and its ability to turn inventions into new products. Among IBMs 2003 patents were ones focused on self-healing computing systems, automating business continuity and recovery, bundling of Web pages for viewing on mobile devices, and fighting identity and credit card fraud, IBM said.

Technology patents also have led to contentious legal battles with far-reaching effects in the recent years. Last year, for example, Microsoft Corp. lost a $521 million jury verdict in a Web browser patent infringement case with Eolas Technologies Inc., which led to changes in Internet Explorer and embroiled a leading Web standards bodyin the patent dispute.

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Check out "Eolas Remains Confident in Face of Patent Re-examination."

Making its debut on the top 10 list for 2003 was Intel Corp. The chip maker landed in seventh place with 1,592 patents, compared with the No. 15 spot in 2002.

Hewlett-Packard Co. also made a notable rise, moving to the No. 5 position from No. 9 in 2002. HP recorded 1,759 patents in 2003, 374 more than in the previous year.

The other companies making the top 10 list were Hitachi Ltd. (No. 3); Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., known as Panasonic (No. 4); Micron Technology Inc. (No. 6), Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (No. 8); Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (No. 9); and Sony Corp. (No. 10).

The patent office notes that the figures compiled for the list are preliminary and that a final count will be available in early April. The full list and patent figures can be viewed here.