Samsung Electronics maintains its position as the leader in U.S. patents for the second consecutive year, surpassing all other companies. However, overall patent grants have declined for the second year in a row.
Shift in Rankings
IBM, which has held the top spot for nearly three decades, now falls to fourth place on the list. Both Qualcomm, a chipmaker, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, a contract chip manufacturer, have surpassed it.
Figures from IFI Claims Patent Services
IFI Claims Patent Services, a research firm analyzing data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, reports a 3.4% decline in total U.S. patents granted in 2022, with 312,095 patents awarded. This decrease follows a 1.3% decline from the previous year. Meanwhile, patent applications have slightly increased to reach a record high of 418,111. The backlog of unexamined patent applications has also grown substantially, exceeding 750,000.
In terms of geographic distribution, U.S. companies received close to half of all patent grants in 2023. Japan ranks a distant second with 12.5% of all patents, followed by South Korea surpassing China to claim the third spot. Germany emerges as the fifth-ranking country on the list, outperforming other European nations.
Declining Patent Numbers
The majority of countries experienced declines in their patent totals. Japan saw a 16% decrease, while Germany and China experienced declines of 15% and 13% respectively.
Samsung Electronics secured 6,165 U.S. patents last year, representing a slight decrease of approximately 1% compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, it significantly outpaced closest competitors Qualcomm (3,854 patents), TSMC (3,687 patents), and IBM (3,658 patents).
Other Notable Awardees
Completing the top ten patent awardees are Canon, Samsung Display, Apple, LG, Micron Technology, and Intel. Following closely is Toyota, which received the highest number of patents among all automakers in 2023.
Apple Leads in Patents among Tech Companies
Apple, a member of the esteemed Magnificent Seven group of tech companies, boasts an impressive portfolio of 2,536 patents. This puts them ahead of industry giants Google (1,837), Microsoft (1,820), and Amazon.com (1,591). Notably, Tesla takes a different approach by abstaining from patents altogether due to philosophical reasons. Meanwhile, neither Nvidia nor Meta Platforms made it onto the list of the top 50 patent holders.
Autonomous Driving: The Fastest Growing Category
For the second consecutive year, the Autonomous Driving category reigns supreme with the highest five-year average growth rate. Patents in this field have increased at an impressive average rate of 38% per year. Toyota emerged as the leading patent applicant in this category, with Honda securing a distant second place. Alphabet's Waymo unit claimed the third spot.
Diverse Areas of Growth
Several other domains have experienced substantial growth in patent filings. Notably, the Electrical Smoking Devices category has emerged as the second-fastest growing sector. Altria's Philip Morris unit stands out as the most active filer in this field. Additionally, Earth Drilling has witnessed remarkable activity, with Halliburton and Saudi Aramco leading the charge.
The Covid-19 pandemic era has also left its mark on patent filings. Breathing Masks, spearheaded by 3M, highlight the importance of protective gear during this turbulent period. Quantum Computing has also gained traction, with IBM leading the way and Google and Microsoft following closely behind. In the realm of Cigarettes, Philip Morris holds a prominent position. Finally, Washer and Dryer Control Systems exhibit notable advancements, spearheaded by LG and closely trailed by Samsung.
Leaders in Other Categories
In Nanotechnology, TSMC takes the lead in patent filings, closely followed by IBM, Intel, and Samsung. Electrical Digital Data Processing, which encompasses a wide range of technologies, demonstrates its importance as a growth area. Hewlett Packard Development, an HPInc. subsidiary, secures the top spot in this category, surpassing well-known names such as Levi Strauss, Boeing, General Electric, and Autodesk. Additionally, Solid Waste Processing witnesses significant activity, with Japan's Unicharm, a manufacturer of disposable diapers among other products, leading the way.
Overall, Apple retains an impressive position as the top patent holder among the Magnificent Seven tech companies. With ongoing advancements and innovation across various fields, the burgeoning landscape of patents continues to shape the future of technology.
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