Companies around the world invest billions in R&D to provide cutting-edge innovation to their products and services. In order to protect these investments, companies apply for patents. Therefore, as Visual Capitalist's Raul Amoros explains below, the number of utility patents a company is granted can be considered a rough measure of its level of innovation.
Every year, the Patent 300 List identifies America’s most innovative companies within the intellectual property space by analyzing the patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
In 2021, the USPTO granted a total of 327,798 utility patents, down 7% from the previous year. Let’s take a look at which companies generated the most patents in 2021.
For 29 consecutive years, IBM has led U.S. companies in the number of patents received annually.
In 2021, the company received 8,540 patents, a 9% decline from the previous year.
IBM’s innovations are focused on solving major global challenges, and cover areas such as sustainable growth, climate change, and preventing future pandemics, as well as initiatives enabling food and energy security. They aim to address these problems through a blend of high-performance computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum computing.
One of IBM’s most noteworthy innovations in 2021 was their new quantum processor called Eagle, which broke the 100-qubit barrier to bring quantum computing into a new era. This processor has the ability to solve problems that classical computers can’t, giving it the potential to bring real-world benefits to different fields from renewable energy to finance and more.
Samsung: A Close Second Innovator
Samsung Electronics is one of the biggest innovators over the last decade. In 2021, the company got 8,517 patents granted by the USPTO, a close second to IBM.
The company’s patent-winning innovations take place in several areas, including virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), 5G technologies, and autonomous driving.
The Technology Sector Dominates Utility Patents
Unsurprisingly, out of the top 25 companies with the most patents granted in 2021, 16 of them belong to the technology sector.
However, utility patents are not only limited to tech companies.
In fact, companies from all sectors apply for patents every year. Patents are great assets for companies since they give them exclusive commercial rights for their inventions and protect them from competition. This is one of the main reasons we see companies getting thousands of new patents every year.