Beating out companies like Samsung, Microsoft and Google, IBM set a new record for US patents, for the first time crossing 8,000 patents in 2016.
According to IBM CEO Ginny Rometty:
“Leading the world in innovation for 24 years in a row is a result of IBM’s unmatched commitment to innovation and R&D–reflected in this year’s new U.S. patent record, breaking the 8,000 barrier for the first time. We are deeply proud of our inventors’ unique contributions to discovery, science and technology that are driving progress across business and society and opening the new era of cognitive business.”
That is a significant achievement, more so because it involved forward technologies like cognitive computing, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, as well as key growing markets like cybersecurity.
In the field of cognitive computing, IBM engineers and researchers have come up with more than 1,100 inventions, with patents covering a diverse array of data types. For example, Patent #9,311,703 concerns a method for the categorization of human heart conditions by the shape and motion of the heart based on cardiac imagery. This can potentially be used to help doctors identify and treat various symptoms of heart disease.
In cloud computing, IBM has 1,600 patents, such as #9,329,908, which covers the proactive identification of “hotspots” in a cloud system where resource constraints in server, storage or network may cause performance issues. This is particularly useful when deploying or migrating an applications to cloud.
IBM set the record with relative ease and plenty to spare. Second-placed Samsung had 5,518 patents, while third-placed Canon came in with 3,665 patents. Google had 2,835 patents for fifth place and Microsoft came in eighth, with 2,398 patents.
It must be understood that holding a patent may give a company an edge over the competition in a particular space, but it is no guarantee that the patent will ever be used, commercially or otherwise. A lot of patents merely serve to protect new discoveries and inventions from being used by anyone else.
Nevertheless, it is a very positive indicator of the level of innovation, experimentation and research that a company has attained, and IBM has, once again, proved to the world in an undeniable manner that cutting-edge discoveries and inventions are still very much a part of the company’s fabric.
If you think this is an anomaly, then think again. Have a look at this excerpt from a post on the IBM Research website back in 2012:
“IBM has topped the annual list of U.S. patent recipients for the 20th consecutive year. From 1993-2012, IBM inventors received nearly 67,000 U.S. patents, and in 2012 alone, received a record 6,478 patents, exceeding the combined totals of Accenture, Amazon, Apple, EMC, HP, Intel, Oracle/SUN and Symantec.”
Innovation still courses through IBM’s veins, and this new achievement is merely another feather in the cap of a company that is increasingly vindicating itself from its past, and validating itself for the future.
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