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2012 Patent Rankings: IBM On Top, Google Spikes 41

bednarz writes "It's official: IBM has dominated the U.S. patent race for two decades. IBM earned 6,478 utility patents last year, topping the list of patent winners for the 20th year in a row, according to data published today from IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. Samsung was the second most prolific patent winner, with 5,081 patents received in 2012, followed by Canon (3,174), Sony (3,032), Panasonic (2,769), Microsoft (2,613), Toshiba (2,447), Hon Hai Precision Industry (2,013), GE (1,652), and LG Electronics (1,624). Earning its first appearance among the top 50, Google increased its 2012 patent count by 170% to 1,151 patents and landed at 21 in IFI's rankings, up from 65 in 2011. Google narrowly beat Apple, which earned 1,136 patents (an increase of 68%) and landed at 22 in the rankings."
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2012 Patent Rankings: IBM On Top, Google Spikes

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  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:35PM (#42550637)

    Filing for patents has been a routine part of being an IBM employee for decades, so employees know how to do it, the internal bureaucracy is in place to make it happen, employees are used to identifying what might count as patentable and submitting it, and there are some minor incentives to do it (bonuses). The fact that IBM usually doesn't make embarrassing headlines with stupid lawsuits (they use them mostly defensively) helps grease that also, because employees don't feel like huge jerks filing them.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday January 10, 2013 @04:52PM (#42550785) Homepage Journal

    I can't think of examples off the top of my head, but it seems like "employees are used to identifying what might count as patentable and submitting it" really amounts to "employees know to just go ahead and patent almost anything, and IBM can decide later if they want to enforce it"

    Sort of.

    IBM has an internal process for vetting possible patents. Employees are encouraged to submit anything and everything that seems like a reasonably novel and interesting idea to this internal process, and a committee composed of attorneys and patent-savvy engineers reviews it and decides if it makes sense to go ahead.

    I never really got involved in the patent game during my 14 years at IBM, but the one patent I did submit (for a method of automatically finding faces in images) the committee deemed to be insufficiently novel. I thought it was pretty novel. It was dead simple to implement, blindingly fast and highly accurate, and this was about 15 years ago, before there were face-finding tools and libraries all over the place. But the committee shut us down.

    I think that internal committee is the reason why IBM's patents tend to be fairly high quality. Some ringers slip through, of course, but I think they're the exception, not the rule.

  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @05:28PM (#42551175)

    The whole purpose of patents is NOT (and has never been) "to provide inventors with the ability to get these items to market". The purpose of patents is to encourage advancing the state of the art, which in no way requires bringing a product to market. The method used to do this is by issuing patents, which provides value, and thus an incentive, to the inventor. Manufacturing and licensing are completely different disciplines than inventing, and there is absolutely no reason an inventor should not be able to do whatever he wants with his invention, including selling the rights to it.

    Patent trolls who sit on patents for years and the spring the on people after the invention has been is use for years are a problem. Screwing the inventor by making patents non-transferrable is not the solution.

  • by Henriok ( 6762 ) on Thursday January 10, 2013 @06:02PM (#42551623)
    Is Google's spike in patents due to it taking over Motorola Mobile? And/or is it due to the recent patent wars that have ignited a lust for patents at Google?

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban