For the last twenty years, IBM has been the number one U.S. patent winner. For 2012, IBM set a personal record for its number of patents with 6,478. IBM’s investment in churning out so many patents helps it avoid the sort of patent cases that have busied other tech companies of late. For comparison, Google and Apple didn’t even win 3,000 patents combined.
Having so much technology can also help IBM set new trends and make some revenue.
IBM invests about $6 billion in research and design annually, but receives only about $1 billion from licensing revenues. In contrast, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) won 1,292 patents — almost a fifth the number of patents IBM made last year — yet still earned almost $6.3 billion in revenue in 2011, likely due to the company’s nearly essential mobile-phone chips…