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IBM Tops "Most Patents List" For 19th Straight Year

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the we're-number-one dept.

IBM 47

bednarz writes "IBM retained its patent crown for 2011, topping the list of patent winners for the 19th year in a row. The only other U.S. company to make the top 10, Microsoft, fell from third place to sixth place, according to IFI Claims Patent Services' list of the top 50 U.S. patent assignees. HP and Intel fell out of the top 10 and landed 14th and 16th, respectively. Apple moved up to No. 39 after breaking into the top 50 for the first time last year. Asian firms account for 25 of the top 50, and U.S. firms hold 17 slots."

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Samsung above Apple (0)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38668814)

Interesting. It's not what you do, but what you do with it...

Re:Samsung above Apple (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38668928)

If you compare the breadth of operation by Samsung and that of Apple, it's easy to see that Samsung has its fingers in a lot more pies, and it would be surprising if they didn't file more patents than Apple. It might be surprising if they filed more about tablets than Apple, though.

Re:Samsung above Apple (4, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669686)

If you compare the breadth of operation by Samsung and that of Apple, it's easy to see that Samsung has its fingers in a lot more pies, and it would be surprising if they didn't file more patents than Apple. It might be surprising if they filed more about tablets than Apple, though.

Samsung also has tons of patents on Real Things, not just software and device design. They do fundamental research into a lot of chemical and physical processes that feed into their display business, for instance. They patent methods and materials based on that research.

Re:Samsung above Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38668950)

You do realise samsung are outselling apple in phone business, they also sell apple many of the parts in the iphone and there share prices is up about 150% over the last 5 years. samsung are quietly taking over much of the consumer electronics business, dominating smartphones, TV and much of the electronics parts supplies for even there competitors

Re:Samsung above Apple (2)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669008)

Yes I do realise the two above points at the time of posting. It's what they're doing with the patents that I find interesting. Samsung has huge clout and it's tentacles spread far and wide. What they are doing with their patents and how how they are enforcing them is what I find interesting.

Re:Samsung above Apple (4, Insightful)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669168)

I guess I don't understand. Didn't Samsung just pass Apple as the largest smartphone company. According to Wikipedia, Samsung is the largest IT company, 2nd largest shipbuilder, 35th and 72nd largest construction companies (two different subsidiaries), 14th largest insurance company, and 19th largest advertising agency in the world. There is a lot there to patent. As for enforcement, are you talking about how they were lax with enforcement with Apple until sued? Most companies will look the other way on a small patent license fee for 6 billion dollars in business. Few companies will look the other way when a company sues them. Patents don't work like trademarks, though, so its Samsung's choice.

Re:Samsung above Apple (1)

Dupple (1016592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669234)

I take your point. Were they lax? Probably not. But this is a news for nerds site. It's unlikely that many other readers would understand or even know the length and breadth of Samsung (I imagine). Their shipping/construction/insurance business is of little interest to sashdotters I'd guess. So like i say, it's not what you have, it's what you do with them. Not moving in, or having knowledge of the previously mentioned businesses they are involved with I wonder what they are doing with these patents. That's what I find interesting. I thought it was implicit in what I said, but now I realise I was too vague. It's past midnight in the UK and now I sleep

Re:Samsung above Apple (0)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669332)

Just an internet misunderstanding. I thought you were implying something with your last sentence and I was trying to dig out what it was. cheers.

Re:Samsung above Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38673862)

[Citation Needed]

Apple is 39???? (0)

helix2301 (1105613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38668832)

IBM does not surprise me being number 1 they have been around the longest and they have massive main frame market to protect. Apple being number 39 shocked me I though they would be hire on the list considering all the patent wars they have been fighting over the past year or two. I remember Microsoft got called out about 3 years ago because they had so many patents and were not defending them. As part of owning a patent you must hold up the legal end of if someone steals your patents you must legal go after them for restitution. One company I thought I would see in the top 50 is Google but I guess being a big open source company then don't file there patents or they don't have that many.

Re:Apple is 39???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38668878)

As part of owning a patent you must hold up the legal end of if someone steals your patents you must legal go after them for restitution

Your facts are as wrong as your grammar.

Re:Apple is 39???? (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38668940)

As part of owning a patent you must hold up the legal end of if someone steals your patents you must legal go after them for restitution

Your facts are as wrong as your grammar.

He has a patent on both.

Re:Apple is 39???? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673772)

As part of owning a patent you must hold up the legal end of if someone steals your patents you must legal go after them for restitution

Your facts are as wrong as your grammar.

He has a patent on both.

In that case, he could have a lot of legal work ahead of him, what with all the infringing pathetically ungrammatical and grossly unfactual comments posted on slashdot.

Re:Apple is 39???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38668884)

Read more. "Considering all the patent wars" you have been told about by the media you read...

Re:Apple is 39???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38669006)

Honestly though, why would Apple be higher? Granted they are huge in their markets but they are very narrowly defined markets. They just don't really make that much stuff. I'm kind of surprised they would be in the top 50 at all, but that just goes to show how consolidated companies are and how few choices there really are.

What about the quality? (3, Interesting)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669002)

If there are many more like this one:

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/01/10/1450255/ibm-snags-patent-on-half-day-off-of-work-notifications [slashdot.org]

then color me unimpressed.

Next up - IBM patents starting fire by rubbing sticks together.

Re:What about the quality? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38669018)

No one wants to buy that Galaxy Nexus shit. That crap is for fags and retards.

Re:What about the quality? (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669028)

The thing is, if IBM patents the planet, eventually the whole system will implode and they'll lose value. So having a big pile of patents will be worthless and all the money thrown at them, as well as fighting them is gone with no value. I don't think we're quite as critical mass yet, but I expect it will happen eventually. The destruction of the patent/copyright system I'd think would be the next global commercial crisis after this financial one, I hope. But that's just me being a cynic.

Re:What about the quality? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669188)

Cynic? That's optimism.

Re:What about the quality? (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38671348)

I don't think that the copyright demise is that near. At least not compared to all the other candidates. Take finance for example, most people want to say that the financial crisis of 2008 is over but in truth all that politicians managed to do is hide it (well, they are politicians after all). Finance will break down again and soon, most probably with the welfare sector leading the charge this time.

With governments and politicians being reluctant to do anything progressive - less so if that means going against the hands that feed you - Copyright still has a stable throne.
Also, I don't think that Copyright/Patents will ever dissolve. Most probably they will just evolve in some sort of abstract "fair compete" rules because, lets face it, total absence would mean that the giants the older system made would be given free reign to copy everyone. The problems with the patent system stem from the fact that the rules are much too literal, which in turn comes from the fact that the world wide legal system is based on the practice of following well defined rules.

IEEE Patent Power scorecard measures quality (2)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669228)

IEEE Spectrum magazine annually puts out an international "Patent Power" scorecard for all the major industries to measure patent quality. In its most recent index published in November 2011 [ieee.org] , Apple was graded as having the powerful patent portfolio among the consumer electronics companies. Note that companies are listed in only one category, and Samsung is listed in the semiconductor industry, most likely because that is the domain where the majority of its patents are filed. IBM dwarfs all other companies; it is listed in the "Computer Systems" category. In the PDF file [ieee.org] that has the actual metrics, the key value to look for is "adjusted pipeline power".

Re:IEEE Patent Power scorecard measures quality (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669768)

IEEE Spectrum magazine annually puts out an international "Patent Power" scorecard for all the major industries to measure patent quality. In its most recent index published in November 2011 [ieee.org] , Apple was graded as having the powerful patent portfolio among the consumer electronics companies. Note that companies are listed in only one category, and Samsung is listed in the semiconductor industry, most likely because that is the domain where the majority of its patents are filed. IBM dwarfs all other companies; it is listed in the "Computer Systems" category. In the PDF file [ieee.org] that has the actual metrics, the key value to look for is "adjusted pipeline power".

You can't really compare between categories in a meaningful way. Samsung may have twice Apple's score, but that doesn't mean they have twice as many innovations patented. Actually, I'd suggest that 90% of Apple's patents aren't innovative and shouldn't be patentable. I'm not sure what fraction of Samsung's are based on Apple-like (design, software, pretty colors) topics, but I suspect a lot of them are real innovations in fields like quantum mechanics. They certainly file a lot of innovative solid state physics patents.

Re:IEEE Patent Power scorecard measures quality (1)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669908)

So a company that you like doesn't have valid patents, whereas a company that you do like does have valid patents, and you don't have any solid numbers to back up your conclusions.

Re:What about the quality? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669938)

Did you even bother to read the claims of the patent discussed in the article you linked?

Re:What about the quality? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674712)

There are exceptions, but in general IBM's patents are pretty high-quality. There's a good internal vetting process that is followed before any patent application is filed, and obviousness is the primary focus of the evaluation committee -- and the committee is staffed with both engineers and attorneys. Obviously it's not perfect because some crap does get through, but not much. Many of IBM's patents are of very high quality, around things like fundamental advances in processor design, magnetic storage, etc.

Disclaimer: I used to work for IBM. I don't any more because it became a crappy place to work, and there's much I dislike about the company, but I do respect their patent practices.

Re:What about the quality? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685480)

Hey, if nobody else did it before them, it must not have been all that obvious. Your logic is like walking up to a $100 bill laying on the ground and not picking it up because somebody must have picked it up already.

Hon Hai over Apple? (4, Interesting)

oxdas (2447598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669024)

I guess I don't follow this closely enough, but was anyone else surprised to see Hon Hai with more patents than Apple? For those who don't know, Hon Hai, aka Foxconn, is Apple's primary manufacturing partner.

Re:Hon Hai over Apple? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685506)

It's kind of like avant-guarde architecture. The guy who came up with the wacky design might be a genius, but the guy who figured out how to build it might be an even bigger genius in a slightly different arena.

Not neccessarily the biggest innovator (1)

JeremyMorgan (1428075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38669186)

Just the company developing the most products.

mod Up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38669510)

dis6ust, o8 been [goat.cx]

Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38669754)

I wouldn't be surprised if IBM was granted a patent for "heuristics of the accretion of the most patents per year." Expect a big lawsuit claiming "prior art" citing this article when another company surpasses them.

What I'd like to see (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38669758)

Does anyone have a lawsuits per patent metric?

Silverbrook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38670132)

Silverbrook came in at number 31. Anyone remember them? They're the company behind Memjet: http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/07/03/22/1241222/new-inkjet-technology-5-to-10-times-faster

The biggest patent arsenal in the world (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38670162)

By now it wouldn't surprise me if IBM had the biggest patent arsenal in the world. They've spent decades investing heavily in R&D.

Yet you never hear about IBM suing anyone or anyone suing IBM, except for Darl McBride. Remember him? Took a long time to settle that case, didn't it?

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38670218)

My second job of my career was programming the very first beta releases of the Santa Cruz Operations unix on an IBM PS/2 Model 60 for AVCO Financial Services in London Ontario. I remember spending several weeks working with their team to debug the tape drivers.

A few months later, my machine was upgraded to a PS/2 Model 80, because the Model 60 didn't have enough snort to run the overnight batch rollover processing I was hired to write.

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38670226)

QIC-80? I think that was the drive technology. Long obsolete.

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38670252)

I got my first exposure to financial or banking systems VERY early in my career. I wrote the ENTIRE rollover batch system myself. It wasn't done and there were more enhancements to be added when my contract was over, but it was a great job and a great experience.

Banking systems are FAR too complex for one man to code nowadays.

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685552)

Man, I loved PS/2 computers. At their time, they were just so cool. Tool-less cases, that wacky MCA architecture, SCSI hard drives in some cases I think, 2.44mb floppies. And the non-cheap ones were fast as shit, for their time.

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38672040)

Thats cuz Apple doesn't sell banking systems :-)

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (1)

dk90406 (797452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38673704)

The SCO case (Darl McBride) was not setteled. It never will be. It is on hold, after Novell sued and proved that SCO didn't hold the UNIX copyrights. SCO then went bankrupt, but are trying to open specific claims against IBM.

SCO will fail, probably because the judge will disagree on allowing SCO to attack without IBM being able to defend. Even if the are allowed to proceed, they will fail, as their claims have no merit whatsoever.
It is trup SCO hoped for a settlement or buyout, but IBM never bent to their empty threats.

Re:The biggest patent arsenal in the world (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38678108)

The SCO case (Darl McBride) was not setteled.

True, except that McBride was little more than a hired hand brought in by the real players to be the public face of the lawsuit. Although it's murky because of the corporate veil, the real villain of the piece appears to be a fellow named Ralph Yarro, former member of the Canopy Group, which used to own Caldera/The SCO Group. Yarro was reportedly responsible for bringing McBride in to replace Ransom Love, and when Canopy eventually dumped Yarro, he (Yarro) basically got SCO (now called TSG) as a going-away present.

It never will be.

Yes it will be. TSG is currently in chapter 11 (restructuring). They can't actually close up shop (chapter 7) without resolving the outstanding cases. And they have deliberately set things up so that their restructuring is now dependent on winning the cases (particularly the IBM case). So there are only two paths forward for SCO/TSG, and both involve resolving their lawsuits, especially the IBM one.

IBM Chief Patent Counsel: Make My Day (3, Interesting)

theodp (442580) | more than 2 years ago | (#38670684)

BusinessWeek: "Everyone knows that if they attempt to bring their patent portfolio against us that they will be met with an equal and opposite force -- and it will be formidable," [IBM Chief Patent Counsel] Schecter said.

Why do IBM employees patent? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38671492)

Obviously, IBM is giving them some financial incentive to do so. Maybe they have "frequent patent-er points" . . . with 100, you get a mainframe or a Rational license. It also means that IBM values patents highly enough, that they give employees time to spend researching and writing them. It would seem that IBM's patent business strategy is financially successful for them.

So any other company could do the same, and direct their employees to patent their work, or even ideas that haven't been implemented yet. It's just a business question if a company can make money off patents. This leads to the cranking out of questionably patentable ideas.

I know that advocating patent factories is not particularly popular on Slashdot. I must be nude here.

But it seems that, at the moment, it works well as a business model.

Re:Why do IBM employees patent? (1)

wannabgeek (323414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38671944)

I must be nude here.

Umm...not unless you're of feminine gender

Re:Why do IBM employees patent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38672564)

In all areas of IBM's business, management uses "number of patents" as a factor to determine promotions and raises. If you want to get ahead and you're not patenting something regularly, that promotion simply isn't coming.

Generally, the huge companies (IBM, aforementioned Samsung) use these for self-protection and don't care if the little guy (you or me) unintentionally violate it when writing OSS or making a novelty item to sell. Just don't try to sue them.

Re:Why do IBM employees patent? (1)

Michael Meissner (520083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38672596)

While I am an IBM employee, I don't speak for them. That being said, for people in the technical tracks, one of the things that management looks at when making the decision to promote somebody, is what kind of patents have they done or been a part of. At the lower levels, it may not matter as much, but as you get higher in the ranks, it becomes much harder to get promoted if you don't have patents.

Is it also 19 years of .... (1)

ProgramErgoSum (1342017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38672420)

top crap patents ? IBM is a great company; but some of its patents are just laughable !
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