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IBM Has Been Awarded An Average Of 24 Patents Per Day So Far In 2016 (qz.com) 54

Traditional companies continue to score a huge number of patents, reports Quartz. The publication deep dived into the patent filings to find which company has been awarded the most number of patents this year. According to its finding, IBM has been awarded 3,617 patents so far this year, whereas Samsung comes close with 3,032 patents during the same period. Behind these giants sit Google with 1,530 patents, Intel with 1,293, Qualcomm with 1,262, Microsoft with 1,232, and Apple with 1,060 patents. From the report: Although IBM's patent-producing power slowed somewhat in 2015, the number of patents it's received so far this year is up more than 13% compared to a year earlier. The company is in the middle of a painful reinvention, that sees the company shifting further away from hardware sales into cloud computing, analytics, and AI services. It's also plugging away on a myriad of fundamental scientific research projects -- many of which could revolutionize the world if they can come to fruition -- which is where many of its patent applications originate. IBM accounted for about 1% of all US patents awarded in 2015.
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IBM Has Been Awarded An Average Of 24 Patents Per Day So Far In 2016

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  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's hard to believe a company can produce that many novel things that need protecting

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Well, I guess the daily patent output DOES match the wordcount of a decent sized novel.

    • It's hard to believe a company can produce that many novel things that need protecting

      It's called "creating a 'Patent Thicket' or 'Patent Wall'. Multiple patents covering minor variations of something, making the cost of an infringement-allegation defense more expensive.

      These are also how cross-licensing deals are worked out. The negotiating parties (effectively) slap their binders full of patents onto the table, and whoever's is taller has more clout in the "OK, we won't sue each other on these ones" negotiations.

    • You don't have to actually PRODUCE the thing to patent it. You just need to have the invention, and IBM has 400,000 people who get incentives to produce novel inventions.

  • by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Saturday June 04, 2016 @03:42PM (#52249397) Homepage

    Every variation of every possibility has been legally locked up, The message I'm getting is "Don't try profiting from anything new of we'll sue you out of existence."

    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Saturday June 04, 2016 @03:54PM (#52249427)

      Every variation of every possibility has been legally locked up, The message I'm getting is "Don't try profiting from anything new of we'll sue you out of existence."

      Well, if you happen to work for IBM, I'm guessing it is worth your time to file a patent. They probably have some kind of compensation system where you get some dollars for a patent filed and granted. And it is probably a requirement for getting promoted to higher levels. And anyway, they probably have some of the meanest bad-assed M* F* patent attorneys from Hell working for them, who know how to push a patent through.

      Now if you are some guy working alone in your garage . . . there is no way that you can compete with these professional gunfighters. You could cure cancer, and the Big Boys would find a way to block the patent.

      • And it is probably a requirement for getting promoted to higher levels. And anyway, they probably have some of the meanest bad-assed M* F* patent attorneys from Hell working for them, who know how to push a patent through.

        This is true. Most big tech corps get their employees to get patents for them (as do a lot of universities). Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Google, etc. The # of patents each has is staggering in proportion to their actual products. Also true that attorneys from hell (aka patent attorneys) file for them: the USPTO calls it a "patent prosecution" for a reason (i.e., you have to defend your thesis from undergrads with B.S. degrees who are reading your patent application)!

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday June 04, 2016 @04:32PM (#52249581)

      The flood of patents also helps to cover of one of those "golden BB" types, you know, like one that manage to lock up something like hyperlinks or "playing a game via a remote server" (like a company I was previously working for got hit with) without a patent office clerk throwing it out as deserved for obviousness and prior art. What's tragic is that the companies that are actually innovating (like aforementioned company) are too busy actually *writing code* to bother with bullshit like patents.

      These goddamned things are just like landmines. It's almost a certainty any piece of sufficiently complex code is going to infringe on a number of patents. I suppose the only good news is that with all the ridiculously (patently) obvious stuff that's getting patented right now, about 20 years from now, it's going to be damned hard to find any software concept that hasn't already been patented and expired. Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself to keep from getting too depressed about the situation.

      Damn... software patents really need to go. It's ridiculous. I keep wondering when the system is going to start imploding under its own weight.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Damn... software patents really need to go. It's ridiculous. I keep wondering when the system is going to start imploding under its own weight.

        About 15 years ago.

      • Damn... software patents really need to go. It's ridiculous.

        Prove that it is by actually telling us how many of the patents mentioned in the summary are in fact "software patents".

    • Obviously IBM inventors would be inventors, because inventors need an army of lawyers and IBM inventors have an army of lawyers. And obviously IBM wouldn't do any research without the patent system, because the 1789 Constitution makes that assumption. SNAFU.

    • http://patft.uspto.gov/ [uspto.gov] Patents cover a wide swath of things (bio to math to physics). As for tech patents, some of them are hardware stuff (e.g., some assholes currently own all of the 802.11 patents for silicon fabrication; like methods of reducing SNR or power consumption, etc which is, partially, why IoT chips are so expensive) and some are software (e.g., Amazon.com really has a patent on "a process of one-click checkout" and Apple really does pay them patent royalties for enabling one-click purchasing
    • IBM is the biggest patent troll. Ever. Who else do you think get $2 billion a year from patent trolling alone? Why do you think IBM has so many patents? Many of the patents are really silly, obvious and has broad coverage. IBM was always considered the big bad company, until Microsoft took over the crown, but IBM has never ceased to being bad. Have you followed IBMs ugly maneuvours in the Mainframe market? Horrendous stories. Every competitor is sued, or bought. Why is IBM called the "Big Blue"? Because the
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday June 04, 2016 @04:22PM (#52249545)

    Either: 24 new inventions that required enough time and effort to warrant granting the one investing so heavily into their development protection from copycats per day, the singularity is practically on the horizon!

    Or: The patent system is FUBAR and has nothing to do anymore with its alleged function.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday June 04, 2016 @04:31PM (#52249577)
    First time in, well, almost forever that that's happened. Yeah IBM gets a lot of patents, but they also spend a lot in R&D. Have done so since the beginning of the 20th century. In 2015 their R&D spending dropped to $5.2 billion, which dropped them out of top 20 R&D companies in the world [pwc.com].

    Here's how the others mentioned in TFA stack up:

    IBM ........ $82b revenue ... $5.2b R&D ... 6.3% of revenue
    Saumsung .. $196b revenue .. $14.1b R&D ... 7.2% of revenue
    Google ..... $66b revenue ... $9.8b R&D .. 14.8% of revenue
    Intel ...... $56b revenue .. $11.5b R&D .. 20.6% of revenue
    Qualcomm ... $25b revenue ... $3.7b R&D .. 14.6% of revenue
    Microsoft .. $87b revenue .. $11.4b R&D .. 13.1% of revenue
    Apple ..... $183b revenue ... $6.0b R&D ... 3.3% of revenue


    Despite Apple's reputation among lay people as an innovator, they're really not. They don't use much of their income on R&D. This is their first year cracking the top 20 in R&D spending, and as you can see the percentage they spend on R&D trails far behind the others.
    • Despite Apple's reputation among lay people as an innovator, they're really not. They don't use much of their income on R&D.

      When it comes to modern patents where "one click to purchase" counts as an "invention" you cannot measure innovation by the number of patents or an R&D budget. Apple's innovations have been in design more than technology and despite that far smaller budget they seem to have come up with far more innovations than e.g. Microsoft for whom I'm struggling to come up with any recent innovative products except perhaps the Surface despite their far higher budget.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Xbox? Kinect V1 and V2 (granted V1 is Primsense and V2 is Canesta, but Apple is guilty of buying IP too) are great examples of innovative products.

  • Most IBM patents are junk. There was a programme there that awarded any crap that people could think up - I blocked one about 3D spatial audio because the guy had absolutely no idea how his 'idea' could actually be implemented.

    The only purpose of patents here is to provide weapons that IBM can bash other companies with (or prevent themselves being bashed by other company's patents). It only acts to discourage actual innovation by startups.

    • It is nice to see that the exponential growth in the number of patents has finally faltered: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offic... [uspto.gov] It's a pity that the current rate of patent creation is more than sufficient to destroy almost all production and innovation.

      We have been fooled into thinking that patents are innovation. But, the current rate of patent creation is anti-innovation and anti-productive.

      Patents are not Innovation. Patents are not Progress. Patents are simply grounds to file a lawsuit against an in

  • I think my life is going to be a miserable ongoing revelation of just how much Gibson got right, way back in '84.

    Heading towards that corporate controlled world, where you work for the big guys, you're operating in the crevices the light doesn't reach, or you're the exploited majority.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford

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