Google surges into top 10 in patent race; IBM retains huge lead

IBM ranks first in the U.S. patent race, as it has for 22 years, while Google climbs to No. 8 and Apple lands at No. 11.

Tech companies made a strong showing among the top U.S. patent recipients for 2014, with IBM dominating the rankings as it has for more than two decades.

IBM was awarded 7,534 utility patents last year, according to data from IFI Claims Patent Services. IBM’s record-setting haul is up 11% compared to 2013, when it earned 6,809 patents.

IBM bested the next most prolific patent recipient, Samsung, by a huge margin. Ranked No. 2, Samsung received 4,952 patents in 2014.

Microsoft, Qualcomm and Google also made it into the top 10. Microsoft, ranked fifth for the second year in a row, received 2,829 patents, up 6% from 2,660 in 2014. Qualcomm climbed from No. 9 to No. 7 with 2,590 patents, a sizable gain of 23% compared to 2013.

Google upped its patent production even more aggressively – by 39% -- to break into the top 10 for the first time.

Google earned 2,566 patents in 2014, up from 1,851 in 2013, to land at No. 8 on IFI’s ranking (up from No. 11 in 2013). Google trailed Qualcomm by just 24 patents in 2014 and was only 239 patents behind Microsoft.

Just outside the top 10 is Apple, at No. 11, with 2,003 patents. Apple grew its patent tally by 13% compared to 2013, when it received 1,775 patents.

Cisco earned 1,095 patents in 2014, up 24% from 885 patents in 2013, and climbed to No. 32 from a rank of 40 a year earlier.

Other tech vendors earning spots on the top 50 list include Intel, which placed 16th with 1,578 patents, and HP, in 17th place with 1,474 patents. BlackBerry, the only Canadian company in the top 50, landed at No. 24 with 1,337 patents. AT&T, with 1,307 patents, came in at No. 25. Huawei Technologies, at No. 48, received 775 patents.

Amazon made its debut in the top 50, squeaking in at No. 50 with 745 patents.

IFI, a division of Fairview Research, specializes in patent analysis. Its annual ranking tracks utility patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Last year saw a new all-time high, according to IFI: annual U.S. patent grants increased by more than 8% to 300,674, surpassing the 300,000 threshold for the first time.

The U.S. has more firms in the 2014 IFI Claims Top 50 than any other single country. Nineteen U.S.-based companies appear on IFI’s Top 50 list, up from 18 in 2013 and 17 in 2012. Japan is second with 18 firms.

“It was a very good year for U.S. patents in terms of growth,” said Mike Baycroft, CEO of IFI Claims Patent Services, in a statement. “It was a particularly good year for U.S. firms which saw major gains from many of the top patent-generators, whereas overall foreign holdings of U.S. patents has held steady at roughly 49 percent.”

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