From IFI Claims:
IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, a leading producer of global patent databases, analytic solutions and innovative web services, today announced its annual tabulation of the top U.S. patent recipients, a ranking that is trusted throughout the world. Using proprietary algorithms to analyze U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) data, the 2015 IFI CLAIMS U.S. Top 50 accurately ranks global patent assignees by utility patent counts.
[Our emphasis] After seven straight years of increases, 2015 is the first year since 2007 to show a downturn in U.S. patent activity.
IFI CLAIMS says there were 298,407 utility patents granted for the calendar year, which is down just less than 1% compared to 2014. Even perennial patent leader IBM is down slightly compared to 2014–although still keeps its #1 position–while #2 Samsung and #3 Canon maintain their 2014 slots with small gains over the prior year.
Big gainers include Qualcomm moving up 3 places to #4, Google up 3 places to the #5 slot, LG Electronics up 1 to #8 and Intel jumping back into the Top 10 at #9. Toshiba increases counts slightly keeping hold of the #6 position. IFI analysis shows downward momentum for some including Sony (#7 down from #4), Panasonic Corp. (#18 down from #10), and Microsoft (#10 down from #5 besting #11 Apple by only 18 patents). Apple’s counts decreased 3% over 2014 but its ranking went unchanged
A total of 20 U.S.-based companies appear on the 2015 Top 50, up from 19 in 2014 and 18 in 2013—America’s largest share of that list in more than a decade. Arguably the most notable gainer among American companies in the Top 50 is Amazon Technologies, which moves up 24 places from #50 to #26.
“After seven straight years of prolific patent growth, 2015 saw the first sign of de-acceleration,” said Mike Baycroft, CEO, IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. “I wouldn’t suggest though that the patent train is losing momentum as many companies continue to crank out more patents than the previous year. That historic seven-year run was remarkable especially when you consider that IBM, Samsung and Canon each generate more than twice as many patents now as they did a decade ago.”
Several Top 50 companies dropped considerably lower in the rankings, but not solely because they generated fewer patents. One of the reasons for the seismic shifts this year, according to Larry Cady, IFI CLAIMS Patent Services Senior Analyst, is due to where patents are being parked.
“Rather than keeping all corporate patents under a single registration, some companies are choosing to spread their portfolios across multiple entities,” said Cady. “This is why we are seeing such dramatic movement this year with Microsoft and Panasonic, which all started assigning some patents to newly formed holding companies.”
Other companies have spread out their portfolios before including Samsung, HP and AT&T but, according to Cady, this year it is becoming a trend. IFI CLAIMS carefully manages its standardized assignee name database and tracking process. It maintains the integrity of subsidiaries that are distinct legal entities and treats each separately on the Top 50 ranking.
IFI CLAIMS also just released the 2015 IFI CLAIMS German Top 50, its first annual ranking of the top assignees of German utility patents. It also is giving free access to the IFI CLAIMS Top 1,000 rankings, a multi-year analysis of global patentees to receive the most U.S. utility grants, also is available again this year.
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