IBM is patent king in 2011 despite Asian dominace

IBM has retained its crown as biggest US patent winner, as another record year sees Asian companies increase their dominance.

In a top 50 ranking by patent database producer IFI Claims, Big Blue has stayed at the top of the pops for the 19th year running, with a five percent increase to 6,180 utility patents in 2011.

Such was IBM’s dominance that it even managed to find time to sell a couple of hundred patents to supposedly patent-hating Google and still stay way out in front.

With former CEO Samuel J Palmisano claiming that the firm moved away from hardware services to focus on more innovative areas, it seems that IBM can fend off possible patent cases with the might of a superior portfolio.

While IBM’s mountain of patent papers is big and getting bigger, it is seeing increasing competition from firms in the east.

Samsung is beginning to catch up on IBM, with its legal team racking up an eight percent growth rate to reach 4,894.  Ironically, 2011 was a year in which Samsung had its rear dragged across numerous continents due to ongoing patent disputes with Apple as the fight escalated in the smartphone and tablet markets.  Apple moved into the 39th spot after creeping into the chart at 46 last year.

Canon leapfrogged Microsoft into the third spot with an 11 percent increase to 2,821, followed by Panasonic and Toshiba, as both jumped a place each.

The “dizzying” pace of Asian patent acquisition saw the total number of patents awarded grow another two percent from last year’s record, hitting 224,505 in total throughout 2011. Indeed Asian firms now account for half of the top 50 slots, with the US nabbing 17.

Other US companies didn’t fare so well, with Cisco, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle all accounting for less patent grants than last year.

As well as the automotive industry, mobile and wireless firms saw some movement up the chart with Broadcomm at 17, Qualcomm at 26 and RIM moving into the top 50 at 40.