For the first time since 1993, IBM does not lead the list of companies that won patents in the United States for new inventions and innovations. Samsung is the new crown holder with a massive 6,248 patents granted in 2022, while IBM came in second with 4,389.
That’s down a staggering 49% from the 8,681 patents IBM won in 2021.
The change at the top of the patent leaderboard is indicative of a broader transition in innovation away from the United States and towards Asia, says IFI Claims Patent Services, a subsidiary of London-based digital research technology company Digital Science.
“Looking at the Top 50 alone, IFI’s data noted a shift from West to East,” the company said in a press release. “In addition to Samsung’s ascendance, Asian-based companies on the list earned 14% more patents than Western countries in 2022 (41,055 vs. 35,365), far eclipsing Asia’s edge in 2021 of just 1%. Japan, China and South Korea alone accounted for 40,114 patents, compared to 32,130 for United States companies.”
Long-time Samsung rival Apple won 2,285 patents, down 10% from the prior year, while Amazon and Google won 1,863 and 1,548, respectively.
Another American giant whose patent wins dipped significantly is Microsoft. The Redmond-based software company won 1,815 patents in 2022, but that’s down 25% from 2021’s 2,417.
Top 20 patent winners of 2022
Taiwan Semiconductor: 3,024
BOE Technology Group: 2,795
Samsung Display: 2,106
Micron Technology: 1,920
IBM’s decline in patent wins reflects a shift in the company’s strategy towards open source software, says IFI. In fact, overall, 2022 is the third straight year to see declines in patent grants — a period that also coincides with the Covid pandemic — even though patent applications were up 2%, a continuation of a five-year trend in increases.
But there is a lag effect in operation between applications and grants.
“The continued growth in applications is encouraging for innovation,” said Mike Baycroft, CEO of IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. “First comes the filing, then typically 12-18 months later the application becomes public, then in another 18 months the grant is issued, so we expect to see a post-COVID upturn in the next couple of years.”
There is also a massive lag of 700,000 unexamined patent applications at the USPTO, the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
While American companies led all nations in number of patents granted, 56% of all patent grants were to foreign companies, a fact the IFI refers to as “stunning.” American companies earned 142,703 patents, more than three times the next national competitor, Japan. Japanese companies won 46,504 patents, while Chinese companies won 24,538 — 19% more than 2021 — South Korean companies won 22,359, and Germany companies won 14,746 patents.
Hot technologies in patents
Autonomous vehicles is the number one patent category right now, with a compound annual growth rate of 64.3% between 2018 and 2022. Other buzzy categories include data processing, drilling technologies, and — bizarrely — electrically operated smoking devices.
The top 10 fastest growing technology areas by patent grants are:
Electrical digital data processing
Drilling technologies for oil/gas/water
Computing based on biological models
Electrical smoking devices
3D culture (biological processes for studying cells)
“We’re not yet seeing a shift toward renewable energy, and some of the fast growing sub-technology areas are focused on improving and more efficiently harvesting traditional fossil fuel sources,” says Baycroft.
More detailed reports on patent applications, grants, and trends are available on IFI’s website.
Source: forbes.com-John Koetsier
Editor: IPR Daily-Ann