The U.S. tech giant IBM has once again topped the list of most number of patents secured by companies in 2017, according to latest data issued by the IFI Claims Patent Services. IBM has been holding on to this coveted spot for more than two decades now, clearly signifying that it is one tech company that has always taken R&D seriously. The latest data suggest that IBM secured 9,043 U.S. patents in 2017, which is exactly one thousand more than it secured in the previous year. Most of the IBM’s 2017 patents were related to cloud computing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and block chain.
Samsung electronics came second in the list, with little over 6,000 patents to its name. The other remaining top 10 slots were filled by Canon, Intel Corp, LG Electronics Inc, Qualcomm Inc, Google, Microsoft, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and Samsung Display. The notable absentees in the top 10 list were Apple and Amazon. Both companies remained out of the top 10 list for the second successive year, taking up 11th and 13th positions respectively. Additionally, the social media giant Facebook made a remarkable improvement this year, breaking into top 50 lists for the first time.
The IFI data also threw light on some very interesting facts with regards to patents. It claimed that categories belonging to new age technologies like artificial intelligence & cloud computing are still lagging behind in patent numbers. The general category like the “electrical digital data processing” on other hand is still most popular when it comes to securing patents. It notched up 48,935 patents in 2017, most by any categories.
Critics, however, have always argued that these patent data’s don’t necessarily indicate about the financial wellbeing or fortunate of any company. After all, patents have been abused in the past and will continue to be abused in future as well. There is also the argument that many big tech companies like Apple and Amazon have comparatively not fared very well in securing patents, but they are still among the richest and most powerful tech companies in the world.
The popular counter-argument to this is that patent data’s are good indicator about which companies are leading the race in technology research and therefore are most likely to make a massive impact on the society through their breakthroughs.