IBM Leads Patent Field for 21st Consecutive Year

For the 21st year in a row, IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other company.

IBM announced that it once again led the pack in earning U.S patents for inventions made over the last year; this marks the twenty-first consecutive year that IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other organization.

Big Blue said its inventors received a record-setting 6,809 patents in 2013. IBM's 2013 patent results represent a diverse range of inventions poised to enable significant innovations that will position the company to compete and lead in strategic areas—such as IBM's Watson, cloud computing and big data analytics, among other key areas.

IBM says these inventions also will advance the new era of cognitive systems, where machines will learn, reason and interact with people in more natural ways.

"We take pride in being recognized as the U.S. patent leader, but patents are only one gauge of innovation. Equally significant is the impact that our patented inventions have when they are used to enable solutions that help clients and societies solve problems," said Bernie Meyerson, an IBM Fellow and vice president of Innovation, in a statement. "Furthermore, the broad range of inventions that these patents represent underscores the need for a patent system that equally and fairly promotes and supports innovation across all technical fields."

IBM's record 2013 patent count was made possible by more than 8,000 IBM inventors residing in 47 different U.S. states and 41 countries, the company said. Samsung same in second to IBM with 4,676 patents, Canon was third with 3,825 patents, Sony was fourth with 3,098 patents and Microsoft was fifth with 2,660. Rounding out the top 10, Panasonic came in sixth with 2,601 patents, Toshiba was seventh with 2,416, Hon Hai (Foxconn) was eighth with 2,279, Qualcomm was ninth with 2,103 and LG Electronics was tenth with 1,947 patents.

Other major tech companies such as Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Intel and Cisco were further down the list. Google, at 1,090 patents, just missed the top 10. The company has been beefing up its arsenal of patents, particularly in the area of wearable technology, where it is going hard with products such as Google Glass.

In a Financial Times report, Allen Lo, Google's chief patent attorney, said the company intends to use its patent portfolio to ward off lawsuits. "Our hope is to avoid a war," he said. "Hopefully we can learn from the smartphone litigation."

In 2012, Google and Apple were neck-and-neck in the patent rankings, with Google at No. 21 edging out No. 22 Apple by only 15 points. 2012 also marked the first time Google made it into the top 50 U.S. patent recipients. Google had 1,151 patents in 2012 and Apple had 1,136. In contrast, IBM had 6,478 patents in 2012.