IBM Announces 25th Consecutive Year of Patent Leadership - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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IBM Announces 25th Consecutive Year of Patent Leadership

IBM Announces 25th Consecutive Year of Patent Leadership

Today, the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) has announced that it has achieved its 25th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership. IBM is a globally recognized leader in the field of information technology research, development, design, manufacturing, and related services.1

During IBM’s more than 100-year history, its employees have included five Nobel laureates, five National Medal of Science recipients, and ten winners of the National Medal of Technology.2 IBM has been a leader in developing breakthrough software innovations, including the relational database, the FORTRAN programming language, and the virtual machine.3

Since 1993, IBM has been issued more U.S. patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office each year than any other company in the world. In 2017 alone, IBM inventors received a record 9,043 patents in areas such as analytics, cognitive solutions, cloud computing, software, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and Blockchain.4 “For the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing,” said IBM CEO, president, and chairman Ginni Rometty.5 “Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”6

IBM beat its own previous record of 8,090 issued patents in 2016 by approximately eleven percent.7 The company obtained approximately 900 more patents than its nearest competitor, Samsung and its subsidiaries, as well as receiving more U.S. patents than Google, Microsoft, and Apple combined.8 Over the last 25 years, IBM has obtained more than 100,000 patents in a wide variety of fields.

IBM has been a leading recipient, licensee, and licensor of patents.9 As a major force in the information technology industry, IBM has firsthand knowledge of the critical role the patents have played over the last few decades in protecting software investments and information technology research and development.10 IBM’s commitment to patents is unwavering, and since 1993, the number of patents it has received each year has increased at a compound annual rate of more than 9 percent.11

IBM’s patent portfolio will allow it to remain competitive in today’s ever-evolving world.  For example, because more and more enterprises conduct business on the cloud, IBM obtained in 2017 more than 1,900 patents related to cloud computing.12 Additionally, over 1,400 patents were granted for inventions relating to artificial intelligence, and 1,200 patents were granted for cybersecurity inventions.13 As cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin become more prevalent, IBM’s contributions to Blockchain, which underlie these digital assets, will be of immense importance.

IBM has been a leader in computing since its founding over 100 years ago. Whether through its System/360 mainframe computers in the 1950s and 1960s to the Personal Computer in the 1980s to Watson in the 21st century, IBM has lead the way in technology for decades.  Ultimately, as IBM continues to invest in research and development, it will be exciting to see how Big Blue continues to create new inventions and remain at the forefront of innovation.


  1. Brief for International Business Machines Corporation as Amicus Curiae Supporting Neither Party, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (No. 13-298).

  2. Id.

  3. Id.

  4. IBM Research, 25 Years of Patent Leadership, Int’l Bus. Machines Corp. (Jan. 9, 2018), http://www.research.ibm.com/patents/ [https://perma.cc/D98Z-2MQF].

  5. Gene Quinn, With 9,043 U.S. Patents, IBM Tops for 25th Consecutive Year, IP Watchdog (Jan. 9, 2018), http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2018/01/09/ibm-tops-u-s-patent-list/id=92016/ [https://perma.cc/9KG6-DR6A].

  6. Id.

  7. IFI Claims, Top 50 U.S. Patent Assignees, IFI Claims Patent Services, https://www.ificlaims.com/rankings/rankings-top-50-2017.htm [https://perma.cc/E9Z4-QVZ9] (last visited Jan. 9, 2018).

  8. Id.

  9. Brief for International Business Machines Corporation, supra note 1.

  10. Id.

  11. Greg Satell, IBM’s Patent Leadership Tells You A Lot About Its Strategy, Inc.com (Jan. 10, 2017), https://www.inc.com/greg-satell/ibms-patent-leadership-tells-you-a-lot-about-its-strategy.html [https://perma.cc/UYB6-LYMH].

  12. IBM Research, supra note 4.

  13. Id.

Douglas Crockatt

Doug Crockatt is a second-year J.D. candidate at Fordham University School of Law, and a staff member of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. As a registered patent agent, he has drafted and prosecuted dozens of patent applications before the USPTO.