Which Big Tech Firm Won The Most Patents in 2015?

January 13, 2016, 10:00 AM UTC
Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Service for IBM
IBM software engineer Jeremy Greenberg, 23, sketches out a patent he has pending at the company's headquarter's in Research Triangle Park, NC. (Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Service for IBM)
Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Serv Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Serv

Which company patented the most inventions in 2015? Once again, the answer is IBM. Last year, the U.S. tech company notched 7,355 new patents, which put it atop the leaderboard for the 23rd year in a row.

The new figures come from IFI Claims, a research firm that compiles patent records and releases an annual list of top recipients. Once again, Samsung and Canon were second and third on the list.

In a news release, IBM (IBM) claimed that its top spot reflected prowess in a variety of technology fields including cognitive computing, the cloud, and artificial intelligence.

While the overall number of patents awarded to the top ten in 2015 is roughly the same as the prior year, there are a couple changes of note:

  • Google (GOOG) rose from No. 8 to No. 5, occupying the spot formerly held by Microsoft (MSFT), which slipped to No. 10 on the list.
  • Panasonic fell from the top ten, displaced by Intel, which came in No. 9 in 2015.

Here’s the entire list:

IFI list 2015

The annual list can serve as bragging rights for companies, but its arrival also coincides with an ongoing effort to reform a U.S. patent system that many regard as dysfunctional. It is also unclear if patents are a useful metric of innovation.

Critics say the system continues to be abused by so-called “patent trolls,” which are shell companies that buy up old patents and then use the legal process to extract settlements. Last year, committees in both houses of Congress passed reform bills that had the president’s support, but the measures have stalled in the face of opposition from the pharmaceutical industry and others.

IBM, which is the highlight of a current museum exhibit on New York’s role as the original Silicon Valley, said it supports the current patent reform bills.

“IBM has actively supported bills in both chambers of Congress […] intended to curb abuse of America’s patent system. In ongoing debates over the future of patent reform, we also have stressed the critical role software plays as a medium for 21st century invention that is vital to U.S. competitiveness,” the company said in an email.

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