IBM still leads in patents, Microsoft maintains No. 3 spot and Cisco gains 30%

Despite recession, IBM hits an all-time high in patents awarded, Microsoft lands top three and U.S. companies overall gain significant ground

U.S. patents awarded in 2009 show IBM continuing its tradition of innovation with fellow high-tech vendors Microsoft, Cisco and Sun, just to name a few, gaining ground.

IBM garnered 4,914 U.S. patents in 2009, setting an all-time high for Big Blue and maintaining its lead against competitors such as Samsung with 3,611 patents and Microsoft with 2,906.

Review 2008's results: IBM maintains lead among patent winners; Samsung, Microsoft gain ground

IBM managed to maintain its lead for the 17th consecutive year, while Microsoft continued its rapid upward climb from the sixth slot last year to land in the top three in 2009, with a 43% increase in its total patents over 2008, according to IFI Patent Intelligence, a Wolters Kluwer Health business.

Among the U.S. companies winning patents, several high-tech players improved their ranking in 2009. The annual corporate ranking of patents issues in 2009 also showed that Cisco increased its number of patents by 30%, winning 913 total and landing in the 18th slot on the list of the top 50 patent winners. Other U.S. companies IFI Patent Intelligence recognized as showing "significant improvement over 2008" included Boeing, which increased its patent count by 26%, GM global, which saw a 68% increase and Sun, which improved its patent count by 10% over the previous year.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues a total of 167,350 utility patents in calendar year 2009, a 6.1% increase over 2008 and nearing the "all-time high" of 173,772 set in 2006. Market segments seeing the most new patent activity include multiplex communications and semiconductors, representing nearly 15,000 patents total in 2009. Drug compositions and biotechnology sectors had more than 2,700 patents awarded, which marks a 17% and 1% increase over 2008, respectively.

"It would appear that the economic downturn of the past two years has yet to slow the flow of U.S. patent activity. However, the USPTO posted a 1.8% decrease in patent applications for its fiscal year 2009 for a total of 457,966, the first annual

decrease in applications since fiscal year 1996," according to an IFI Patent Intelligence news release. "As a result, this decrease could translate into fewer patent issues in the coming two or three years."

Forty-nine percent of the patents were awarded to U.S. companies, with the remaining issued to foreign companies, according to IFI patent Intelligence. (See related story.)

Here is the complete list of the top 50 U.S. patent winners in 2009:

1 INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP 4914

2 SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD KR 3611

3 MICROSOFT CORP 2906

4 CANON K K JP 2206

5 PANASONIC CORP JP 1829

6 TOSHIBA CORP JP 1696

7 SONY CORP JP 1680

8 INTEL CORP 1537

9 SEIKO EPSON CORP JP 1330

10 HEWLETT-PACKARD DEVELOPMENT CO L P 1273

11 FUJITSU LTD JP 1220

12 LG ELECTRONICS INC KR 1065

13 HITACHI LTD JP 1058

14 HON HAI PRECISION INDUSTRY CO LTD TW 995

15 RICOH CO LTD JP 988

16 GENERAL ELECTRIC CO 979

17 MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC 966

18 CISCO TECHNOLOGY INC 913

19 FUJIFILM CORP JP 880

20 HONDA MOTOR CO LTD JP 774

21 DENSO CORP JP 745

22 SIEMENS AG DE 716

23 BROADCOM CORP 714

24 SHARP K K JP 657

25 HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC 655

26 TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC 652

27 NOKIA AB OY FI 648

28 XEROX CORP 624

29 INFINEON TECHNOLOGIES AG DE 605

30 LG DISPLAY CO LTD KR 597

31 HYNIX SEMICONDUCTOR INC KR 587

32 SUN MICROSYSTEMS INC 561

33 SEMICONDUCTOR ENERGY LABORATORY CO LTD JP 545

34 BOEING CO THE 534

35 BROTHER KOGYO K K JP 532

35 MITSUBISHI DENKI K K JP 532

35 TOYOTA JIDOSHA K K JP 532

38 GM GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS INC 531

39 NEC CORP JP 526

40 KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS ELECTRONICS N V NL 515

41 SILVERBROOK RESEARCH PTY LTD AU 474

42 BOSCH, ROBERT GMBH DE 467

43 AT&T INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY I L P 444

44 SANYO ELECTRIC CO LTD JP 443

45 FUJI XEROX CO LTD JP 425

46 SAMSUNG SDI CO LTD KR 423

47 ALCATEL-LUCENT USA INC 413

48 INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE TW 397

49 NEC ELECTRONICS CORP JP 391

50 HITACHI GLOBAL STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES NETHERLANDS B V NL 385

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