Google boosts patents in 2013 but IBM still dominates

Google stays ahead of Apple in patent awards

IBM retained its patent crown in 2013, snaring more U.S. patents than any other company for the 21st year in a row. But the big news is Google, which quickened its patent pace and climbed to No. 11 in the rankings.

IBM was awarded 6,809 utility patents last year, according to data from IFI Claims Patent Services. That record-setting haul is up 5% compared to 2012, when Big Blue earned 6,478 patents.

After IBM, Samsung Electronics was the second most prolific patent winner, with 4,675 patents received in 2013. Canon placed third with 3,825 patents, followed by Sony (3,098), Microsoft (2,660), Panasonic (2,601), Toshiba (2,416), Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2,279), Qualcomm (2,103), and LG Electronics (1,947).

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Last year, Google increased its patent count by 60% and took home 1,851 patents. That was enough to land Google at No. 11 in IFI’s rankings, up from No. 21 in 2012. Google first appeared among IFI’s top 50 in 2012, when it earned 1,151 patents.

With 1,775 patents, Apple landed at No. 13 in the 2012 rankings, up from No. 39 in 2011.

IFI reports that 2013 was a record year for patents. Overall, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued 277,835 utility patents – which is 10% more patents than were issued in 2012. Eighteen U.S.-based firms made the top 50 list in 2013 (one more than in 2012).

Cisco’s patent count declined. The company earned 885 patents in 2013, down 7% from 951 patents in 2012, and slid in the rankings, dropping to No. 40 from a rank of 31 in 2012. Alcatel-Lucent dropped out of the Top 50 from No. 49 in 2012 to No. 54 in 2013.

Other tech vendors earning spots on the top 50 list include Intel, which placed 18th with 1,455 patents, and HP, in 19th place with 1,360 patents. Right behind HP is BlackBerry, the only Canadian company in the top 50. It jumped nine places to No. 20 with 1,334 patents.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and reach her via email at

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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