International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) won a whopping 6,809 patents last year, occupying the top spot for the 21st consecutive year, according to IFI Claims Patent Services. Most of the Armonk, New York-based company’s patents were related to cognitive computing, big data, analytics and neutral networks. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has an R&D team of more than 8,000 scientists, spread over 41 countries. About one-third of its patents came from overseas.


IBM, Microsoft, Qualcomm: three U.S. companies among top 10

South Korean giant Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.(ADR) (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) was ranked second with 4,675 patents, while Japan’s Canon Inc. (ADR) (NYSE:CAJ) (TYO:7751) came in third with 3,825 patents. Though technology-related patents usually take about three years to process, they signal what areas companies are exploring for future growth. Apart from International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), only two other U.S. companies appeared in the top ten. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) scored 2,660 patents, and Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) won 2,103 patents.

IBM Patents

Among other U.S. tech heavyweights, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was ranked 11th with 1,851 patents and its mobile rival Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) came 13th by winning 1,775 patents. They appeared among top 20 for the first time together. Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) might be struggling in the consumer market, but it still has immense patent power. It was awarded 1,334 patents last year, occupying the 20th spot.

IBM to create a separate division for its Watson tool

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) announced last week that it will create a separate unit for the Watson tool. Watson is a cognitive technology that defeated humans on the TV game show “Jeopardy!.” It can process a plethora of data and answer queries in plain English. The technology relies heavily on recent patents. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) plans to invest more than $1 billion in the Watson division, that will have a staff of 2,000. In cloud computing, it has patented a technology that can analyze encrypted data without compromising on security. Since 2010, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has been spending more than $6 billion on R&D annually.

In the past, the company has sued, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) for violating its patents. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) generates more than $1 billion in annual patent licensing revenue.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) shares were down 0.14% to $188.50 in pre-market trading Friday.