In the world of consumer technology, there is no greater prize than to be crowned king of the patents. Those who wield the key to software and hardware patents around the world have at their fingertips an almost unimaginable potential flow of cash and kudos, as such R&D is a major focus of any large consumer technology firm.
Google has its ‘moonshots’, Microsoft has its Research division, and IBM has Watson, what all are attempting to accomplish is an advantage over the rest. Acquiring patents is the best means by which to achieve that end, and as has been revealed by IFI CLAIMS patent services Top 50 list for 2014, some are closer than others to this goal. Here is the top ten (for the full list, head here):
- 1. 7534 International Business Machines Corp, United States
- 2. 4952 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Korea
- 3. 4055 Canon KK, Japan
- 4. 3224 Sony Corp, Japan
- 5. 2829 Microsoft Corp, United States
- 6. 2608 Toshiba Corp, Japan
- 7. 2590 Qualcomm Inc, United States
- 8. 2566 Google Inc, United States
- 9. 2122 LG Electronics Inc, Korea
- 10. 2095 Panasonic Corp, Japan
Sitting comfortably at the top of the pile is IBM, with a cool 7534 patents registered in the US. Microsoft has held its position at fifth from the previous year, with 2829 patents. Only Sony, Canon and Samsung came ahead, with fourth, third and second respectively. The real surprise is Google, fresh from its acquisition of Motorola’s patent portfolio. Mountain View has bounded into the top ten, achieving a place of eighth overall, with 2566 patents, not far short of Microsoft.
If current trends continue, next year the situation may be rather different, Microsoft may have Google breathing down its neck.
What proposed technology has excited you most in the past year? Let us know in the comments below.