IBM Leads in Patents, Again

According to researcher IFI Claims Patent Services, IBM (NYSE:IBM) topped the list of the companies with maximum number of patents issued in 2011, its 19th straight win in as many years.

IBM won 6,180 patents in 2011, with Samsung (5,930 patents) in second place. Canon (NYSE:CAJ) reported third, Panasonic was at #4 with 6,752 patents and Toshiba came in at fifth place with 6,502.

Other interesting information in the report included the fact that Asian companies are turning on the heat in their drive to secure U.S. patents. “Global companies, and especially Asian ones, are collecting U.S. patents at a dizzying pace, and now Asian firms hold eight of the top 10 slots in the 2011 ranking,” said Mike Baycroft, IFI chief executive officer, in the statement. “This isn’t to say that U.S. companies have lost their verve for patent production, as their patent portfolios are also growing. It seems that Asian companies have apparently made it a higher priority.”

Patents are also a source of revenue for IBM – it makes about $1 billion in licensing revenue every year, not bad on an annual investment of $6 billion in R&D expenses. Patents also give IBM clout when it wants to influence technology trends – it turns a blind eye to companies “infringing” on its patents, so long as they toe its standards.