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Qualcomm, Apple and Google soar up patent assignee rankings



Michael Loney


Technology firms are rising quickly up the ranking of firms with the most patents granted in the US, according to new data published by IFI Claims Patent Services.

IFI Claims Patent Services has today revealed the ranking of the top 50 firms for patents granted in 2013.

According to IFI figures, the USPTO issued a record 277,835 utility patents in 2013, up about 10% on 2012 and the most issued in a single year. A total of 18 US firms made the top 50 list in 2013, up from 17 in 2012 and 2011.

IFI figures reveal that IBM remains comfortably the biggest patent assignee, continuing a dominance that has lasted 21 years. It was granted 6,809 patents in 2013, up 5% from 6,478 in 2012. But technology firms are catching up fast.

"You are seeing big growth in companies like Qualcomm, Google, Apple and Blackberry," Mike Baycroft, CEO of IFI Claims Patent Services, told Managing IP. "Even as you go down the list, there are companies like AT&T and Verizon growing. Ten years ago it was pharma that was growing. Now it seems to be the high-tech mobile companies."

Qualcomm shot up eight places to ninth in the ranking in 2013 from 17th in 2012. The California-based telecommunications firm’s number of patents granted grew 62% to 2,103 from 1,292.

Google moved 10 places up the ranking, to 11th from 21st. Its figure of 1,851 patents granted in 2013 was up 61% on the 1,151 patents granted in 2012.

Apple rose nine places to 13th in the rankings from 22nd in 2012. It had 1,775 patents granted in 2013, up 56% on 2012’s 1,136.

The rise of Google and Apple in the patent assignee ranking has pushed them ahead of long time Silicon Valley patent leaders Hewlett-Packard and Intel.

BlackBerry entered the top 25 this year, moving up to 20th from 29th in 2012. Its number of patents granted increased 35% to 1,334 in 2013 from 986 in 2012. "It is surprising BlackBerry has not slowed down because it is under stress," noted Baycroft.

Samsung remained in second place, although its number of patents granted fell to 4,675 in 2013 from 5,081 the year before. However, the South Korean electronic giant’s number of patents applied for in 2013 rose to 5,753, from 5,532 in 2012.

Further down the list is Samsung Display. Its 1,270 patents filed put it in 22nd place in the 2013 rankings. This was up greatly from 123rd place with 238 patents filed in 2012. Samsung Display was formed from the spin-off of Samsung’s LCD display business in 2012, which established the unit as a separate subsidiary under the Samsung umbrella.

Canon and Sony remained in third and fourth place in the rankings, respectively, with both firms’ number of patents granted increasing.

Microsoft and Panasonic swapped the fifth and sixth places. Microsoft was granted 2,660 patents in 2013, up from 2,613 in 2012. Panasonic’s number of patents granted fell to 2,601 in 2013 from 2,769 in 2012.

Notable high movers further down the rankings were healthcare products maker Covidien moving up 463 places to 46th place, with its 743 patents granted up from a mere 57 in 2012, and Amazon Technologies, which moved up to 59th place in the ranking from 103rd, with 530 patents granted in 2013 up from 287 in 2012.

Notable firms to fall down the rankings were General Electric, which fell five places to 14th, and Hitachi, which fell 13 places to 26th spot.

The statistics are for granted patents and do not include re-issued patents.

The figures do not group subsidiaries of companies together, but rather lists each subsidiary separately. This may explain why no firms that are seen as patent trolls are prominent in the list.

"There are no trolls in the top 50," said Baycroft. "However, if in fact Intellectual Ventures consolidated their assignments in a single assignee they would probably show up in this list. Someone like Sony goes out of their way to make sure they file under a single name, but someone like Intellectual Ventures does not."

The ranking of the top 1,000 patent assignees is available on IFI’s website by registering here.

Managing IP will be publishing a more in-depth analysis of firms’ patent filing strategies in its February issue, including interviews with leading in-house counsel and rankings of which law firms are used most by the top 25 patent filers.

Rank 2013 Rank 2012 Change Assignee cc Patents granted 2013 Patents granted 2012
1 1 0 International Business Machines Corp US 6809 6478
2 2 0 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd KR KR 4675 5081
3 3 0 Canon K K JP JP 3825 3174
4 4 0 Sony Corp JP JP 3098 3032
5 6 1 Microsoft Corp US 2660 2613
6 5 -1 Panasonic Corp JP JP 2601 2769
7 7 0 Toshiba Corp JP JP 2416 2447
8 8 0 Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd TW TW 2279 2013
9 17 8 QUALCOMM Inc US 2103 1292
10 10 0 LG Electronics Inc KR KR 1947 1624
11 21 10 Google Inc US 1851 1151
12 11 -1 Fujitsu Ltd JP JP 1806 1535
13 22 9 Apple Inc US 1775 1136
14 9 -5 General Electric Co US 1739 1652
15 16 1 GM Global Technology Operations LLC US 1626 1377
16 12 -4 Seiko Epson Corp JP JP 1494 1461
17 14 -3 Ricoh Co Ltd JP JP 1470 1410
18 18 0 Intel Corp US 1455 1290
19 15 -4 Hewlett-Packard Development Co L P US 1360 1394
20 29 9 BlackBerry Ltd CA CA 1334 986
21 19 -2 Toyota Jidosha K K JP JP 1284 1285
22 123 101 Samsung Display Co Ltd KR KR 1270 238
23 35 12 Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson SE SE 1149 843
24 24 0 Sharp K K JP JP 1132 1118
25 23 -2 Honda Motor Co Ltd JP JP 1121 1132
Source: IFI Claims Patent Services

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