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Drop in patent awards sees IBM immutable at top spot

Posted: 15 Jan 2016     Print Version  Bookmark and Share


This trend will likely continue into 2016 with other companies following Microsoft and Google's lead, Cady said. While the names on IFI's top patent lists will change, "the numbers are necessarily going to change very much."

Patent categories

The majority of patents, 43,652 in 2015, were awarded for electrical digital data processing in computers, while transmission of digital information/telecoms accounted for 28,117 patents; IBM received the most patents in both categories. Patents awarded for image data processing and recognition of data increased by 14 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. There was also a 200-patent increase awards for climate change mitigation technologies related to transportation.

TSMC was awarded 1,325 of the total 25,409 patents for semiconductors, surpassing IBM as the leading patenting entity. GlobalFoundries received several hundred more patent awards compared to 2014, following its acquisition of IBM's chip business in 2015.

Cady said he wasn't surprised by the amount of computer and telecommunications patents, which have traditionally dominated U.S. patent award lists. There is great innovation going on in automobiles, especially in Germany, but that category often doesn't make it to U.S. lists because it's overwhelmed by computer and telecom technologies.

This year saw 2,862 fewer patents awarded for business methods, largely due to the 2014 Supreme Court decision that tightened the rules on patentable software. IBM received the most patents in this category with 549 awards.

- Jessica Lipsky
  EE Times

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