IBM loses top spot in patent ranking held for decades

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

IBM has dropped to second position in a ranking of US patents awarded in 2022, falling behind Samsung Electronics, after holding the top spot since 1993.

IBM was issued with 4,743 US utility patents in 2022, down 44 percent from 2021 while Samsung maintained its activity and was awarded 8,513 utility patents, according to the Patent 300 report prepared by Harrity LLP

IBM has been a fixture atop the list even as it migrated its business away from hardware and systems and towards online services and consultancy.

However, 2022 saw a sharp move away from patenting technologies such as semiconductors and memory and patenting more generally by IBM, apparently a strategy that started in 2020. “We decided to no longer pursue numeric patent leadership, but remain an intellectual property powerhouse and continue to have one of the strongest portfolios in the world in our priority technologies,” Bloomberg quoted Dario Gil, IBM’s head of IBM research, saying.

Although the ranking only represents activity in one country the US market has been considered the most important over recent decades and the ranking has generally been taken as indicative of global patent filing activity. IBM has received about US$27 billion in revenue from intellectual property since 1996.

Top ten companies ranked by utility patents awarded by USPTO in 2022. Source: Harrity LLP

Foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is in sixth spot alongside Chinese communications giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. with patent awards of 3,038 and 3,023, respectively.

Ranked 10 to 16 with more than 2,000 US patents awarded are Qualcomm, Sony, Intel, Dell, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, respectively.

The three highest European companies in the Patent 300 are Ericsson at 22, Bosch at 33 and Siemens at 35. Infineon is ranked 64, STMicroelectronics ranked 77 and NXP Semiconductors ranked 91.

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