While the PTO has eschewed publication of "top patent holders," independent patent research companies like IFI Patent Intelligence continue to track who is filing what in the PTO. In this year's "Top U.S.-Patent Recipients" list, IFI rounds out the top 20 this way:
1 INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP 4186To see the top-35 list, click here.
2 SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD KR 3515
3 CANON K K JP 2114
4 MICROSOFT CORP 2030
5 INTEL CORP 1776
6 MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO LTD JP 1745
7 TOSHIBA CORP JP 1609
8 FUJITSU LTD JP 1494
9 SONY CORP JP 1485
10 HEWLETT-PACKARD DEVELOPMENT CO L P 1424
11 HITACHI LTD JP 1313
12 MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC 1250
13 SEIKO EPSON CORP JP 1229
14 GENERAL ELECTRIC CO 912
15 FUJIFILM CORP JP 869
16 RICOH CO LTD JP 857
17 INFINEON TECHNOLOGIES AG DE 814
18 LG ELECTRONICS INC KR 805
19 TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC 757
20 HONDA MOTOR CO LTD JP 747
Two observations are made on the 2008 list. First, American companies captured only 49 percent of U.S. patents and hold only 4 of the top 10 slots, and 12 of the top 35 slots. Japanese companies hold 5 of the top 10 slots and 14 of the top 35. Taken collectively, the top 35 companies accounted for 26 percent of all the utility patents granted in 2008.
While American companies lead in total new patents for 2008, Japan is right behind with 23 percent; Germany is third with 6 percent, South Korea furth with 5 percent; and Taiwan fifth with 4 percent.
The second (and more glaringly obvious) observation is IBM's allowed patents - despite KSR and the PTO's "deny, deny, deny!" approach to applications over the last year, they nevertheless managed to break the 4K mark for issued patents. This mark is nearly triple that of HP, and exceeds the issuances of Microsoft, HP, Oracle, Apple, EMC, Accenture and Google -- combined. Also, IBM's issued patents for 2008 is a 133% increase over the previous year (3,147).
For more information, see:
"IFI Patent Intelligence Analysis of 2008's Top US Patent Recipients Suggests America May Be Losing Dominance" (link)
Asher Hawkins, "IBM's Brain Boom," Forbers (link)
Joff Wild, "IBM Looks For Patent Quality Solutions, But Could Big Blue Actually Be Part of the Problem?" IAM Blog (link). Joff's observation:
If pendency and quality are linked – and I don’t think that I am the only one to believe they probably are – you have to ask why patent office workloads and pendency times are going up. Is it, in fact, because companies such as IBM are submitting so many applications in the first place? Could it be that if Big Blue and many other large organisations were more rigorous about what to seek protection for and did not submit so many applications in the first place, the backlog would not be as large as it is, examiners would have more time to do their work and quality standards would not be coming under so much scrutiny?