US Patent Grant

Despite the tech giants sparring in courts over issues of Intellectual Property (IP) Infringement from time to time, patent grants continue to remain a prime cornerstone corresponding to how companies measure their progress rate and build a successful and profitable enterprise in the future. In 2019, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) set a brand new high-watermark by granting 333,530 patents to the inventors and owners. These figures are remarkable for quite a few reasons. First and foremost, this is the maximum number of patent grants in a single year. Secondly, the figure represents a 15% jump on a year before. The overall hike in the number represents the enduring interest to safeguard IP. The 15% jump corresponds to the fact that patent grants dipped in 2018, while the number of Patent Applications filed but not granted was bigger than ever. It might be because both the applicants and the USPTO took a little more time to file the patent application and process the same, respectively, without leading to a reduction in the use of patents altogether.

What comes as a surprise in the annual US patent grant list is the fact that the world’s most high profile and valuable technology firms are not always the ones that stand at the topmost positions. When it comes to the so-called FAANG group, including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google – Facebook stood at number 36 with 989 patents, not making to top 10 despite being one of the fastest movers in the world; Apple at number 7 with 2,490 patents; Amazon at number 9 with 2,427 patents; Netflix couldn’t even make it to the top 50; and, Google with no special mention for growth stood at the 15th position with 2,102 patents.

For the past 27 years, IBM, one of the oldest tech companies, has continued to hold on to the top spot with 9,262 patent grants in 2019. Samsung Electronics is at a distant second with a total of 6,469 patents. However, these figures tell a completely different story altogether if we consider some other aspects. IFI Claims (a US-based company offering Patent Services) has noted that Samsung ranks at the number one position if we consider all its active patent families, which might get filed across several divisions, along with counting the overall patents it has filed till now. In this context, Samsung stands at 76,638, and IBM, the distant number two at 37,304 patent families.

Two other significant areas that are worth tracking include technology trends and the biggest movers. In the very first place, it is quite interesting to see a car company rising to the top, that is, Kia Motors jumping 58 positions to stand at the 41st position with a total of 921 patents. It is noteworthy to see how cars are entering a pretty exciting phase of innovation and technology by filing a significant number of patent applications. Others in these fields include:

  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise with 794 patents at the 48th position (28 places up)
  • Micron Technology with 1,268 patents at the 25th position (nine places up)
  • Huawei with 2,418 patents at the 10th position (six places up)
  • BOE Technology with 2,177 patents at the 13th position (four places up)
  • Microsoft with 3,081 patents at the 4th position (three places up)

Quite unsurprisingly, the US companies account for 49% of the US patents granted in 2019; Japan accounts for 16% (to be the second-largest); and, South Korea at 7%.