The U.S. patent office issued 253,155 utility patents in 2012, the highest annual number on record and an increase of about 13 percent over 2011, IFI estimates. In 2010, the office made its largest increase of annual patent awards, 31 percent.
All but nine companies in the top 50 saw an increase in patent production over last year. Among the gainers, 32 saw double-digit or better growth.
“For the past five years, the world’s appetite for U.S. patents has been seemingly insatiable,” said Mike Baycroft, chief executive of IFI.
For the twentieth year in a row, IBM was at the top of the list, receiving a record 6,478 utility patents in 2012, up nearly 5 percent from 2011. Samsung was second with 5,081, up nearly 4 percent, and Canon third with 3,174, up 12 percent.
Sony comes in fourth with a gain of nearly 33 percent over 2011, and Panasonic and Microsoft are fifth and sixth, respectively. General Electric made it back into the top 10 at No. 9 up from 11th last year, putting three U.S. companies in the top 10.
Among other big gainers this year, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Hong Fu Jin Precision all won 59 percent more patents than in 2011. All three companies made it into the top 50 for the first time this year, ranked at 49th, 48th and 40th respectively. Research in Motion, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. were both up by 49 percent, followed by Qualcomm up 40 percent.
Among the biggest losers, Cisco dropped to No. 31 from No. 22, Korea’s SK Hynix Inc. fell to 43th from 25th and Germany’s Infineon Technologies declined to 61st from 44th, probably due in part to the sale of its wireless unit to Intel. Australia’s Silverbrook Research plummeted to 157th from 31st.
The Top Ten list of 2012 U.S. patent recipients* includes:
1 IBM 6,478
2 Samsung 5,081
3 Canon 3,174
4 Sony 3,032
5 Panasonic 2,769
6 Microsoft 2,613
7 Toshiba 2,447
8 Hon Hai 2,013
9 General Electric 1,652
10 LG Electronics 1,624
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.