Most Inventive Companies of 2015 Based on Patent Activity

Update 2017-01-10: As part of our 2016 reporting effort, several methodology improvements allow us to retroactively improve the accuracy of these 2015 company lists, which are updated below. Also the revised counts include the full year 2015 results.

We began collecting patent records from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in the summer of 2014 as part of a data journalism service reporters use to search and set alerts for public data filings. At first we were shocked at how many applications and grants we saw published each week, and further, we began to notice that certain companies were quite prolific.

So back in June we published a list of companies most active in protecting their inventions from the beginning of the year through May, and here is our list for 2015 separated by applications and grants published by the USPTO through December 11th. It’s worth noting that the Patent Office publishes applications months after they were submitted.

The top of the leaderboard is little changed from June, though IBM and Samsung switched places where the latter is now in the number one slot. Canon, LG, Google, Qualcom, Toshiba, Sony, Microsoft and Panasonic round out the top ten.

Interestingly, all of these companies received far more grants in the back half of the year. This trend is true also for patent applications: far more were published in the last six months. It may be worth noting that December of 2014 was particularly heavy, so the actual totals for 2015 could change.

In terms of major movers:

  • Samsung moved from number two into the top position for grants, displacing IBM.

  • Google moved up to poistion 10 in applications.

Out of the top 20 applications and grants, it’s hard to categorize too finely given the product diversity of these companies, but generally,

  • The vast majority are technology companies, broadly speaking, i.e., computers, chips, displays or software and services.

  • Optical products, including cameras, copiers, etc. was the second largest category including Canon, Sony, Ricoh and Epson, though clearly there’s overlap with tech.

  • Only two grants are from the automotive sector, Toyota and GM, but four auto companies are in the top 20 for applications: Toyota, Ford, Hyundai and GM.

  • GE is in numerous segments, including appliances, power and energy, healthcare and transportation.

  • Seven of the top 20 application companies, and eight of the top 20 in grants, are American companies, with the balance from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Sweden.

Utility Patent Grants (B1, B2)

     
1 Samsung1 8,184
2 International Business Machines Corporation 7,315
3 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha 4,153
4 LG2 3,844
5 Qualcomm Incorporated 2,895
6 Google Inc. 2,858
7 Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba 2,621
8 Sony Corporation 2,455
9 Panasonic3 2,440
10 Microsoft4 2,389
11 Intel Corporation 2,051
12 Apple Inc. 1,948
13 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. 1,752
14 General Electric Company 1,746
15 Ricoh Company, Ltd. 1,628
16 Seiko Epson Corporation 1,613
17 Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha 1,587
18 Fujitsu Limited 1,471
19 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. 1,293
20 GM Global Technology Operations LLC 1,284
21 Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson(publ) 1,283
22 Brother Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha 1,205
23 Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co., Ltd. 1,161
24 Ford Global Technologies, LLC. 1,160
25 Robert Bosch GmbH 1,140
26 Amazon Technologies, Inc. 1,133
27 Broadcom Corporation 1,085
28 Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. 1,079
29 BlackBerry Limited 1,069
30 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 1,030
31 Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha 990
32 Siemens Aktiengesellschaft 984
33 The Boeing Company 972
34 Micron Technology, Inc. 960
35 Cisco Technology, Inc. 958
36 Mitsubishi Electric Corporation 894
37 AT&T Intellectual Property I, L.P. 878
38 Koninklijke Philips N.V. 877
39 Sk Hynix Inc. 849
40 Xerox Corporation 806

Utility Patent Applications (A1)

     
1 Samsung5 10,999
2 International Business Machines Corporation 8,059
3 LG6 4,448
4 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha 4,081
5 Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba 3,217
6 Qualcomm Incorporated 3,061
7 Panasonic7 2,685
8 Sony Corporation 2,591
9 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.,Ltd. 2,554
10 Google Inc. 2,530
11 Microsoft8 2,131
12 General Electric Company 2,100
13 Apple Inc. 2,043
14 Seiko Epson Corporation 1,973
15 Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha 1,971
16 Fujitsu Limited 1,902
17 Ford Global Technologies,LLC 1,774
18 Huawei Technologies Co.,Ltd. 1,637
19 Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson(publ) 1,566
20 Hyundai Motor Company 1,523
21 Mitsubishi Electric Corporation 1,317
22 Koninklijke Philips N.V. 1,303
23 Robert Bosch GmbH 1,286
24 Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute 1,269
25 Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha 1,263
26 Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. 1,223
27 Siemens Aktiengesellschaft 1,216
28 GM Global Technology Operations LLC. 1,155
29 NEC Corporation 1,111
30 Boe Technology Group Co., Ltd. 1,084
31 Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co., Ltd. 1,070
32 SK Hynix Inc. 1,064
33 Denso Corporation 1,061
34 Fujifilm Corporation 1,033
35 Texas Instruments Incorporated 973
36 Cisco Technology, Inc. 965
37 The Boeing Company 964
38 Intel Corporation 946
39 Honda Motor Co.,Ltd. 920
40 Brother Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha 861

Design Patents (S1)

     
1 Samsung9 1,440
2 LG10 480
3 Microsoft11 323
4 Apple Inc. 189
5 NIKE, Inc. 171
6 Koninklijke Philips N.V. 163
7 Ford Motor Company 139
8 Google Inc. 123
9 Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 99
10 3M Innovative Properties Company 87
11 Target Brands, Inc. 84
12 The Procter & Gamble Company 83
13 Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft 77
14 Panasonic12 72
15 GM Global Technology Operations LLC 67
16 Bridgestone Corporation 67
17 The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company 65
18 Robert Bosch GmbH 64
19 S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 64
20 Kohler Co. 64
21 Daimler AG 61
22 Michelin Recherche et Technique S.A. 58
23 General Electric Company 53
24 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. 52
25 Caterpillar Inc. 51
26 Deere & Company 51
27 Sony Corporation 49
28 Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha 47
29 BSH Home Appliances Corporation 46
30 Jaguar Land Rover Limited 46
31 Brother Industries, Ltd. 45
32 Suncast Technologies, LLC 44
33 The Gillette Company 44
34 Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin 44
35 HTC Corporation 41
36 Salomon S.A.S. 40
37 Harry Winston SA 40
38 Oakley, Inc. 39
39 Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba 38
40 SMC Corporation 38
  1. Includes Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Samsung-Display Co., Ltd.; Samsung SDI Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., Ltd.; Samsung Medison Co., Ltd.; Samsung Techwin Co., Ltd.; Samsung SDS Co., Ltd.; Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Korea Corporation; Samsung Electro-Mechanics Japan Advanced Technology Co., Ltd.; Samsung Heavy Ind. Co., Ltd.; Samsung Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronic Co., Ltd.; Samsung Total Petrochemicals Co., Ltd.

  2. Includes LG Electronics Inc.; LG Display Co., Ltd.; LG Chem, Ltd.; LG Innotek Co., Ltd.; LG Hausys, Ltd.; LG CNS Co., Ltd.; LG Fuel Cell Systems Inc.; LG Siltron Inc.

  3. Includes Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co.,Ltd.; Panasonic Intellectual Property Corporation Of America; Panasonic Corporation; Panasonic Liquid Crystal Display Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Healthcare Holdings Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America, Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America; Skyworks Panasonic Filter Solutions Japan Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Healthcare Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Ecology Systems Guangdong Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Intellectual Property Managment Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Avionics Corporation; Panasonic Intellectual Property Mangement Co., Ltd.

  4. Includes Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLC.; Microsoft Corporation; Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLP.

  5. Includes Samsung Electronics Co.,Ltd.; Samsung Display Co.,Ltd.; Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., Ltd.; Samsung Techwin Co., Ltd.; Samsung SDI Co., Ltd.; Samsung SDl Co., Ltd.; Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation; Samsung Heavy Ind. Co., Ltd.; Samsung Medison Co., Ltd.; Samsung Corning Precision Materials Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electro-Mechanics Japan Advanced Technology Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronics, Ltd.; Samsung Total Petrochemicals Co., Ltd.; Samsung Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electro-Mechanics Japan Advanced Tech. Co. Ltd.; Samsung SDS Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronic Co., Ltd.; Samsung Card Co., Ltd.

  6. Includes LG Chem, Ltd.; LG CNS Co., Ltd.; LG Innotek Co., Ltd.; LG Hausys, Ltd.; LG Electronics Inc.; LG Display Co., Ltd.; LG Siltron Inc.; LG Electronics; LG Life Sciences, LTD.

  7. Includes Panasonic Corporation; Panasonic Liquid Crystal Display Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Intellectual Property Corporation of America; Panasonic Ecology Systems Guangdong Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Healthcare Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Healthcare Holdings Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co.,Ltd; Panasonic Avionics Corporation; Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America, Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America; Panasonic Corporation of North America; Skyworks Panasonic Filter Solutions Japan Co., Ltd.

  8. Includes Microsoft Corporation; Microsoft Technology Licensing, LLC.; Microsoft Technology Licensing.

  9. Includes Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Samsung Display Co., Ltd.

  10. Includes LG Electronics Inc.; LG Chem, Ltd.; LG Hausys, Ltd.

  11. Includes Microsoft Corporation; MICROSOFT MOBILE OY.

  12. Includes Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co., Ltd.; Panasonic Healthcare Holdings Co., Ltd.