IPWatchdog: America’s Big 5 tech companies increase patent filings, Microsoft holds lead in AI technologies

By: Steve Brachmann

America’s “Big 5” tech companies have been chugging forward with patenting activities in recent years, according to mid-December reports of data released from venture capital resource firm CB Insights. This data suggests that since 2009, a total of 52,000 patent applications have been filed by a collection of five tech giants: Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary GoogleApple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL); Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB); Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN); and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT). The report sheds a little bit of light on the tech sectors where each of these major tech companies are trying to stake their claims.

In terms of sheer numbers, in the CB Insights study, which curiously did not include patent giant and American research juggernaut IBM, Microsoft ranks supreme among this collection of five major tech firms. The Redmond, WA-based hardware and software developer has applied for a total of 16,840 patents over the seven years of the study. In second place is Google with 14,596 patent applications over the same time period. Although exact numbers for the other three firms weren’t publicly released by CB Insights, these two firms are followed by Apple (13,420 patent applications), Amazon (5,186) and Facebook (2,508), respectively.

Collectively, these five tech companies have been pushing towards a total of 10,000 patent applications filed per year. This trend marks a sharp rise in patent application filing activities among the Big 5, which filed 3,565 patent applications collectively in 2009 and 9,804 patent application in 2013. Data published by CB Insights indicates that totals from 2014 onward are only to date, so those totals could increase with patent applications published in the future by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

It deserves further mention that this particular collection of Big 5 tech companies would be quite different had CB Insights included IBM. It is indeed hard to understand how CB Insights could leave off patenting giant IBM (NYSE:IBM), the major tech company that has earned the most U.S. patents each year for the past 23 years. In any event, these numbers on patents filed by American high tech firms and the growth identified would have been much higher in a different study that included the obvious leader of the pack — IBM. For example, in 2015 alone IBM received 7,355 patents, which dwarfs the number of patent applications even filed by Amazon and Facebook since 2009. 

Read the full article online at IPWatchdog