Patents are one of the biggest markers for a company’s commitment to innovation. They help inventors safeguard their original work. Hundreds of companies around the world pour billions of dollars into R&D to develop innovative solutions and break new grounds in science and technology. Here we take a look at the top 10 largest active patent holders in the world.
Patents give companies an edge over rivals, helping them build new products and improve existing ones. The rate of innovation varies greatly from industry to industry and country to country. According to IFI Claims Patent Services, hybrid plants, CRISPR gene-editing, cancer therapies, and 3D printing are the top technology trends. Though these sectors account for only a small number of patents, they are growing rapidly.
IFI Claims has analyzed the patent portfolios of corporations around the world, and ranked them based on the number of active patents they hold. The IFI Claims Ultimate Owner ranking looks at the total patent holdings of a company. The patent grants of subsidiary companies are included in the portfolios of their respective parent companies.
The ranking is current as of January 02, 2020. These are the top 10 largest active patent holders in the world, according to IFI Claims.
10- LG Electronics Inc, 23,043 patents
The South Korean electronics giant is one of the world’s largest makers of LCD TV, refrigerators, washing machines, and other home appliances. According to IFI Claims, LG Electronics and its subsidiaries hold 23,043 active patent families. A patent family is a set of patent publications filed across the globe to cover an invention.
9- Intel Corp, 24,628
Last year, Intel sold its German unit to Apple. The deal included patents as well as products. The US chipmaker was granted 3,020 patents in 2019 alone. It has consistently ranked among the world’s largest active patent holders. Intel’s R&D efforts in the last few years have been in the areas of Internet of Things, AI, and machine learning.
8- Siemens AG, 25,320
The German industrial conglomerate spent a staggering $6.3 billion on R&D last year. Siemens has more than 43,000 R&D employees worldwide. It is consistently delivering innovation in digital technologies, healthcare, energy, and industrial products. It holds a total of 25,320 active patent families.
7- Panasonic Corp, 27,298
Formerly known as Matsushita Electric, Panasonic has been at the cutting edge of innovation for decades. The Japanese electronics giant’s patents are mainly in the areas of computer hardware and software, digital camera, LCD projector, television, semiconductors, home appliances, and battery technology.
6- Robert Bosch GmbH, 28,285
Robert Bosch is Germany’s largest active patent holder, according to IFI Claims. The engineering and technology giant is 92% owned by a charitable institution. Its patents are primarily in the areas of automotive parts, security systems, home appliances, Internet of Things, and cloud computing.
5- Microsoft Corp, 29,824
The Redmond-based software giant was granted 3,081 patents in 2019 alone. It has a total of 29,824 active patent families. Through its innovative products and services, Microsoft continues to revolutionize how we work and connect. The software giant is pouring billions of dollars into R&D to create innovative products and services.
4- General Electric Co, 30,010
General Electric was founded by Thomas Alva Edison, one of the most prolific inventors of all time. Nearly 90 years after Edison passed away, General Electric remains among the world’s largest active patent holders with 30,010 patent families. It spent $4.9 billion on R&D in 2018. GE focuses its R&D efforts on aircraft engines, electric motors, energy, medical devices, and industrial products.
3- Canon Inc, 35,724
Founded in 1937, Canon is a leading maker of digital cameras, printers, projectors, calculators, and scanners. Canon allocates about 8% of its annual spending to R&D. It was granted 3,548 patents in 2019 and 3,056 patents in 2018 in the United States.
2- International Business Machines Corp, 37,304
IBM has been granted the most US patents every year for the last 27 years! In 2019, the USPTO granted it 9,262 patents. With IBM winning so many patents every year, you would expect it to be the world’s largest active patent holder. But its patent holdings are only half the size of Samsung’s. That’s mainly because IBM doesn’t keep all its patents. It regularly reviews its patent portfolio and gets rid of the ones that are not strategic.
1- Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, 76,638
Korean electronics heavyweight Samsung and its various subsidiaries collectively hold 76,638 patent families, making it the world’s largest active patent holder. Samsung has diversified business interests spanning electronics hardware, AI, security, software, and accessories. Unlike IBM, Samsung prefers to keep hold of its patents rather than getting rid of them.