Top 100 US patent owners 2016

The most valuable patents you can own are still those issued in the United States; but overall, the owners of the 100 largest portfolios of active US patents are rolling back their filing activity in the country

Three years ago we introduced our annual report, the US Patent 100, which identifies the entities that own the 100 largest portfolios of granted, in-force patents in the United States. Along with that list, we also include patent application growth rates, as well as a bibliometric measure of the rate that other companies are citing each portfolio, which we call Tech Score. Below, for the fourth year in a row, we update that data for 2015 and reflect on the changes.

To review the methodology, this data comes from PatentVest – a fully integrated analytic and reporting platform developed from the ground up, with over 75,000 man hours by MDB Capital Group. PatentVest measures, scores and ranks over 4,000 public and private companies in relation to their US patent holdings, unifying over 4 million granted US patents and over 2 million US patent applications on file. These man hours have been spent cleaning data directly from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and adding outside information on ownership and subsidiaries based on Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) data. The data used for this report was current as of December 30 2015.

Microsoft ousts Panasonic from the top five

Last year’s top five patent holders were Samsung, IBM, Canon, Panasonic and Sony. This changed in 2015, with four of the five companies continuing to dominate the US IP market. Within this group, Samsung widened its lead over the rest of the field, adding over 8,000 new US grants in 2015 compared to a range of -4,800 to 3,500 for the number two through number five players. In 2015, Microsoft (which now includes patents from Microsoft Technology Licensing and Microsoft Mobile) added over 3,500 grants, while Panasonic reduced its total grants by over 400. As a result, Microsoft and Panasonic swapped ranks on this year’s list. The three-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for patent applications filed by this group dropped slightly to between the 7% and 11% range this year, indicating slightly decreasing patenting activity.

New entrants and drop-outs

Seven entities moved up the ladder and made it onto the US Patent 100 list during the last year: Avago Technologies (36), Kyocera (81), Merck (84), Huawei (86) Caterpillar (97), EMC Corp (98) and Halliburton (100). While most of these new entrants won their place as a result of sustained IP development, some are due to significant acquisitions, as noted below.

Avago Technologies joined this year’s list at number 36 – primarily due to its recent acquisition of LSI Corp, which was ranked number 55 last year. Avago’s acquisition of Broadcom (43) in January 2016 – which prompted it to rebrand itself as Broadcom Limited – is likely to catapult it into next year’s top 10. Merck’s recent acquisitions, most notably of Cubist, helped it to jump from number 133 last year to the 84 spot. As Merck continues to acquire new companies and their respective patent portfolios, we expect it to continue climbing the list.

The seven new organisations appearing on the 2015 list contributed to pushing the following six off: TE Connectivity, Daimler, Bayer, Rohm, Stanley Black & Decker and Exxon. LSI Corp fell off the top 100 list from a ranking of 55 last year as a result of the acquisition by Avago mentioned above.

Moving up and down top 100

There has been quite a bit of movement even among the companies appearing on both the 2014 and 2015 top 100 lists. This year’s cut-off to make the US Patent 100 was a minimum of 4,532 grants, which is 12.6% more than last year’s cut-off of 4,024. It is interesting – and a sign of increased M&A activity – that this was considerably higher than the 7.6% increase in the cut-off minimum that we saw last year.

As the US Patent 100 started with a higher number of minimum grants in 2014, some entities’ rate of growth of in-force patents was not high enough to keep them on this year’s list.

The top three entities which have climbed up the rankings all had significant acquisition activity in 2015. Of particular interest are the recent and planned acquisitions of some of the top entities with falling ranks this year. For example, Alcatel-Lucent was acquired by Nokia in 2016. Their combined patent portfolios would put Nokia among the top 10 entities on the US Patent 100 list. Also, Halliburton’s planned acquisition of Baker Hughes would propel Halliburton to the top half of the list. These recent and planned acquisitions might suggest that companies with large patent portfolios but declining patent growth relative to their peers represent potential acquisition opportunities.

Table 1. Top 10 risers

Item

Company

Grants

Apps

Three-year app CAGR

Tech Score

Rank 2015

Rank 2014

Change in ranking

1

Avago Technologies

11,732

927

7%

0.8

36

178

+142

2

GlobalFoundries

14,649

2,531

13%

0.86

23

90

+67

3

Merck & Co

5,080

1,402

6%

0.7

84

133

+49

4

Huawei

5,036

4,324

26%

0.9

86

113

+27

5

Kyocera

5,185

1,970

16%

0.84

81

101

+20

6

SAP

5,377

1,983

11%

0.92

77

86

+9

7

Airbus Group SE

5,312

1,657

10%

0.8

79

88

+9

8

Apple

13,236

4,366

19%

1.03

26

34

+8

9

EMC Corp

4,532

167

6%

1.03

98

106

+8

10

Qualcomm

16,877

7,678

17%

0.97

18

25

+7

Source: PatentVest, MDB Capital Group

Table 2. Top 10 fallers

Item

Company

Grants

Apps

Three-year app CAGR

Tech Score

Rank 2015

Rank 2014

Change in ranking

1

Alcatel-Lucent

12,199

2,246

6%

0.88

33

22

-11

2

Danaher

4,895

896

7%

0.76

92

81

-11

3

Advanced Micro Devices

5,152

698

11%

0.85

82

72

-10

4

Baker Hughes

5,004

1,335

10%

0.85

89

79

-10

5

Renesas Electronics

10,616

1,256

4%

0.76

44

35

-9

6

3M Co

8,497

1,946

7%

0.82

58

51

-7

7

Lockheed Martin

4,896

492

5%

0.86

91

84

-7

8

NEC

11,555

3,679

8%

0.83

37

31

-6

9

Procter & Gamble Co

8,611

1,905

8%

0.75

56

50

-6

10

Roche Holding

5,295

1,885

7%

0.76

80

74

-6

Source: PatentVest, MDB Capital Group

Table 3. Stand-out portfolios

Company

Grants

Apps

Three- year app CAGR

Tech Score

Alphabet

20,505

5,229

16%

1.01

Apple

13,236

4,366

19%

1.03

Caterpillar

4,539

1,809

17%

0.8

Ford

8,595

2,828

19%

0.86

Halliburton Company

4,400

1,636

16%

0.86

Huawei

5,036

4,324

26%

0.9

Marvell

6,189

344

17%

0.91

Qualcomm

16,877

7,678

17%

0.97

Taiwan Semiconductor

11,399

2,873

22%

0.83

Verizon Communications

4,804

1,313

18%

1.01

Best of the best

Our stand-out portfolios list highlights companies with assets which rank among the top across all of our three key PatentVest reported categories. Of the 150,000-plus entities that have been assigned at least one US patent, these 10 companies stand out in terms of grants (over 4,400), CAGR (16% and up) and Tech Score (0.80 and up), implying that they own the largest, fastest-growing and best-recognised patent portfolios in the world.

As was the case last year, we needed to slightly raise the bar again, as the minimum number of grants to be eligible was over 4,400 – compared to 4,200 last year. We increased the CAGR minimum to 16% and Tech Score to 0.80 and up. The number of companies eligible for this list actually increased by one this year to a total of 10. Since it is difficult – especially with large portfolios – to have both sustained growth (CAGR) and sustained impact (Tech Score) over time, the members of this list represent a commitment to excellence in the pursuit of differentiated IP assets.

When reviewing this year’s list, we note the absence of IBM, Ericsson, Covidien, SAP and BlackBerry – all companies that were on the stand-out list last year. In every case, the reason for missing the cut this year was due to a drop in CAGR. This does not mean that these companies have experienced a sudden degradation of the quality of their portfolio; rather, it simply reflects a sign of decreased patent filing over the last three years. For example, in the wake of Alice v CLS Bank, companies such as IBM and SAP may have reduced their patent filing growth while waiting for further clarity on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions.

Table 4. The US Patent Elite – the 100 biggest active US patent portfolios

Item

Company

Grants

Apps

Three-year app CAGR

Tech Score

1

Samsung Electronics

63,434

22,077

10%

0.81

2

Canon

40,011

8,525

9%

0.75

3

IBM

39,436

13,968

11%

0.9

4

Microsoft

31,692

8,272

8%

1.01

5

Sony

29,988

8,096

7%

0.85

6

Panasonic

29,478

7,126

7%

0.8

7

Intel

25,588

3,858

8%

0.89

8

Toshiba

25,518

8,643

9%

0.81

9

General Electric

24,502

9,068

11%

0.81

10

Hitachi

21,979

4,371

6%

0.79

11

LG Electronics

21,038

6,439

12%

0.83

12

Alphabet

20,505

5,229

16%

1.01

13

Fujitsu

19,186

5,799

8%

0.8

14

Fujifilm

19,158

4,062

6%

0.74

15

Micron Technology

19,054

1,061

6%

0.74

16

Seiko Epson

17,700

3,365

7%

0.76

17

Intellectual Ventures

17,545

2,225

6%

0.92

18

Qualcomm

16,877

7,678

17%

0.97

19

Siemens

16,820

4,997

8%

0.78

20

Texas Instruments

16,744

1,682

7%

0.81

21

Ricoh

15,700

2,456

9%

0.77

22

Oracle

14,802

1,599

6%

0.95

23

GlobalFoundries

14,649

2,531

13%

0.86

24

Hon Hai/Foxconn

14,360

7,547

12%

0.81

25

Toyota

13,326

4,475

14%

0.86

26

Apple

13,236

4,366

19%

1.03

27

Xerox

13,048

1,762

9%

0.75

28

Sharp

13,040

3,963

8%

0.81

29

Honda

12,957

1,990

7%

0.79

30

AT&T

12,636

1,936

10%

0.92

31

Hewlett-Packard Co

12,387

1,613

4%

0.83

32

Cisco

12,291

1,595

10%

0.99

33

Alcatel-Lucent

12,199

2,246

6%

0.88

34

General Motors

12,164

3,146

10%

0.85

35

Honeywell

12,008

2,713

8%

0.83

36

Avago

11,732

927

7%

0.8

37

NEC

11,555

3,679

8%

0.83

38

Taiwan Semiconductor

11,399

2,873

22%

0.83

39

Robert Bosch GmbH

11,368

4,301

10%

0.78

40

Johnson & Johnson

11,293

3,006

8%

1.03

41

Ericsson

11,203

3,890

14%

0.93

42

Denso Corp

11,002

2,335

7%

0.77

43

Broadcom

10,748

2,120

9%

0.87

44

Renesas Electronics

10,616

1,256

4%

0.76

45

Mitsubishi Electric

10,152

2,963

10%

0.78

46

Koninklijke Philips NV

9,853

3,943

6%

0.94

47

Brother Industries

9,517

1,189

10%

0.74

48

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

9,417

1,821

10%

0.95

49

STMicroelectronics

9,391

1,401

9%

0.76

50

Boston Scientific

9,219

1,782

7%

0.99

51

Nokia

9,177

4,003

8%

0.98

52

Medtronic

9,142

2,178

6%

1.15

53

Boeing

9,065

1,631

10%

0.82

54

DuPont

8,987

2,231

7%

0.66

55

Semiconductor Energy Laboratory

8,931

1,682

9%

0.77

56

Procter & Gamble

8,611

1,905

8%

0.75

57

Ford

8,595

2,828

19%

0.86

58

3M

8,497

1,946

7%

0.82

59

BlackBerry

8,381

2,503

12%

0.93

60

SK Hynix Inc

8,175

1,589

10%

0.74

61

BASF

7,991

2,816

6%

0.69

62

Konica Minolta

7,752

1,703

6%

0.75

63

United Technologies

7,299

2,820

15%

0.78

64

LG Display Co

7,114

1,015

7%

0.74

65

Western Digital

7,068

474

5%

0.82

66

Olympus Corp

7,029

1,785

9%

0.84

67

Schlumberger

7,009

2,068

9%

0.87

68

Infineon

6,779

1,342

10%

0.78

69

Applied Materials

6,249

1,811

7%

0.8

70

Marvell

6,189

344

17%

0.91

71

Eastman Kodak

6,020

901

5%

0.96

72

Sumitomo Electric

5,838

1,601

9%

0.76

73

Covidien

5,827

2,381

13%

1.09

74

TDK Corp

5,721

646

4%

0.78

75

Freescale Semiconductor

5,627

1,020

12%

0.87

76

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute

5,399

4,172

14%

0.84

77

SAP

5,377

1,983

11%

0.92

78

Seagate Technology

5,352

659

8%

0.81

79

Airbus Group SE

5,312

1,657

10%

0.8

80

Roche Holdings

5,295

1,885

7%

0.76

81

Kyocera

5,185

1,970

16%

0.84

82

Advanced Micro Devices

5,152

698

11%

0.85

83

Abbott Laboratories

5,123

1,357

8%

0.96

84

Merck & Co

5,080

1,402

6%

0.7

85

Industrial Technology Research Institute

5,050

1,311

8%

0.78

86

Huawei

5,036

4,324

26%

0.9

87

Murata Manufacturing

5,034

1,204

11%

0.7

88

Dow Chemical

5,029

1,473

12%

0.76

89

Baker Hughes

5,004

1,335

10%

0.85

90

Tokyo Electron

4,929

1,506

8%

0.77

91

Lockheed Martin

4,896

492

5%

0.86

92

Danaher Corp

4,895

896

7%

0.76

93

University of California System

4,876

1,901

10%

0.86

94

Verizon Communications Inc

4,804

1,313

18%

1.01

95

Continental AG

4,713

1,202

8%

0.74

96

Nissan Motor

4,693

959

9%

0.82

97

Caterpillar

4,539

1,809

17%

0.8

98

EMC Corp

4,532

167

6%

1.03

99

Monsanto

4,469

675

14%

0.64

100

Halliburton Company

4,400

1,636

16%

0.86

US Patent 100

The US Patent 100 List is a ranking of each company’s patent grants. The company data is a normalised list of public and private patent holders, aggregated by hand with all publicly available subsidiary information. The grant data includes all US patents granted and in force, including utility, design and plant patents. Data is sourced directly from the USPTO assignments database and is aggregated for name variations and subsidiary data. Patents that have expired, are not maintained or have been withdrawn are excluded from this count. All of these numbers were current as of December 30 2015.

Action plan

The US Patent 100 provides actionable intelligence for the purposes of:

  • patent portfolio benchmarking;
  • comparisons across companies and industries;
  • assessments of innovative activity over time; and
  • indications of patent portfolio positioning and impact.

The list is valuable because of the important new information it provides to investors, companies and policy makers. Much like an investment index, this information provides a unique view into the companies listed and the industries they represent.

For investors

Depending on the stage of a corporation’s development, intellectual property may be a primary value driver. This list provides insight as to whether a company’s portfolio has been growing and the impact that those assets appear to be having within their technology verticals.

For companies

The US Patent 100 enables portfolio benchmarking and deeper analysis of IP strategy within and across industry verticals.

For policy makers

Out of 150,000-plus entities holding at least one granted, in-force US patent, 385 companies own portfolios of over 1,000 assets, representing over 57% of the US total. The top 100 patent holders own over one-third of all US patent assets.

Michael B Chernoff is chief IP officer at MDB Capital Group, Dallas, Texas, United States

This data does not rank patent portfolio values outright, though some of these metrics can be used as secondary indicators of innovation. The opinions presented in this article are not intended to be, nor should they be construed as, legal or investment advice. A company’s inclusion in this article is not to be construed as an investment recommendation for such company’s securities.

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