SAN JOSE, Calif. – The U.S. patent system is back in stride with IBM still on top but Samsung and China are on the rise.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark office issued 320,003 utility grants in 2017, up 5.2 percent from the previous year. U.S. patents grew just two percent in 2016, rebounding from a rare one percent decline in 2015, blamed generally on a bad economy.
“We’re more or less back on trend now,” said Larry Clady, a senior analyst at IFI CLAIMS Patent Services that released its annual report on subject.
IBM remains in first place with 9,043 grants in 2017, up 12 percent--its 25th year as the U.S. patent leader. Samsung is only 150 patents behind if you count all five divisions of the conglomerate in the Top 100. Samsung Electronics ranked second, up 6 percent, and Samsung Display was tenth.
U.S. companies lead the list but China is on the rise, growing its patent awards 28 percent last year, passing Taiwan to take fifth place. Two of China’s rising LCD makers were among the fastest-growing companies on the list.
BOE Technology Group rose 63 percent, jumping from #40 to #21 with 1,413 grants. The company formed in 1993 runs nine LCD fabs, is building a 10.5-generation plant and has annual revenues of more than $8 billion. It ranked seventh this year in semiconductor patents, ahead of Intel at #9 which has most of its patents in computers and networking.
Another LCD maker in China, Shenzhen China Star Optoelectronics, wasup 44 percent to #45 with 708 new U.S. patents. It was founded by TV giant TCL with investment from Samsung in 2009 and now has four fabs running or under construction.
China’s LCD giant BOE surged to #21 in U.S. patents in 2017. Click to enlarge. (Source: IFI Claims)
Among U.S. companies, Facebook saw the fastest growth at 50 percent, making its appearance on the Top 50 list for the first time with 660 new awards. It trails its archrivals Google which has been in the Top 10 for several years and Amazon that leaped into the Top 20 last year.
Intel rose two notches to #4 on the overall list. However, TSMC leads in semiconductor patents, followed by IBM, Samsung, Samsung Display, SEL of Japan and Globalfoundries.
Machine learning was one of a handful of rapidly growing patent categories IFI called out this year for the first time. IBM and Google led in the AI category.
Autonomous cars was another hot topic this year. It along with patents in hot areas such as AI and 3-D printing helped drive Toshiba, Ford and Hyundai up in the rankings to #14, #15 and #24, respectively.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times