Top 100 US patent owners 2018

IAM and ktMINE have joined forces to create the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100 – a list of the 100 entities with the biggest active US patent portfolios. Although US companies make up most of this year’s group, Asian companies hold most of the patents

The IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100 lists the entities that as of January 1 2018 owned the 100 largest patent portfolios of granted, in-force US patents and pending patent applications. This data was collected and aggregated from ktMINE through its IP data and analytics platform.

The data was gathered from sources such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), European Patent Office, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval, Public Access to Court Electronic Records, other regulatory bodies and hundreds of news sources to form the most comprehensive repository of IP data available.

ktMINE’s technology cleanses hundreds of corporate data sources using algorithmic normalisation and clustering methods to consolidate entities. This company mapping processes more than 11.4 million corporate history records to determine an ultimate parent for each patent by leveraging SEC data on company subsidiaries and M&A information.

Usual and unusual suspects

A quick glimpse at the top of the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100 list reveals many familiar entities: Samsung, IBM and Canon have the top three largest portfolios, with Intel and Microsoft rounding off the top five.

Collectively, with over 225,000 assets, the top five own more assets than the bottom third combined. In the top spot, Samsung holds over 75,000 granted US patents, while at number 100 Continental AG holds just 4,056.

Those in the top 10 have a history of using their developed IP resources to successfully execute business strategies. It is obvious that conglomerates and consumer electronics powerhouses edge out many legacy industries (ie, heavy manufacturing, energy and pharmaceuticals), where patent activity has begun to wane.

Companies catering to consumer electronics, information technology, computing and semiconductors make up almost half of the spots on this list. Of those in the top 20, all market products in these industries.

Some points about the list stand out:

  • Amazon has shown a noticeable push towards patenting innovations, which positions it for future rises up this list. While Amazon may lack the depth of technologies patented, its portfolio is young and continues to grow.
  • Abbott Pharmaceuticals has made several acquisitions to boost its portfolio beyond those of many of its peers (most recently, it acquired St Jude Medical and Alere Inc).
  • As companies in the consumer goods sector file fewer patents than most electronics companies, there are just three industry leaders hanging on in the top 100: Nike, Procter & Gamble and Stanley Black & Decker.
  • In 2017 Dow Chemical and DuPont merged. This saw the formation not only of the largest chemicals company by revenue but also the largest chemicals company by patent holdings. This consolidation has left our top 100 list with just three major conglomerates in the chemicals industry: BASF, DowDupont and Monsanto.

Top innovators

From a relative innovation perspective, we analyse the ratio of patent application publication activity in 2017 and compare this to each entity’s overall application portfolio. Standout companies are those with recent innovation activity, which is highlighted by higher ratios.

Brother published almost 60% of its patent applications within the last year, indicating a definitive ramp-up in patent activity and possibly signalling that it is on the lookout for new technologies.

With such tremendous filing numbers coming from entities such as Fujifilm and HP, the three-dimensional printing and imaging space may also be a segment that is ripe for innovation.

From the same perspective in the automotive space, both Honda and Hyundai are beefing up their technology pipeline, with a ratio of about 50% each. Ford is not far behind, boasting a 46.6% ratio.

While the potential of crafting a truly autonomous vehicle lingers in the future, many traditional automotive companies have needed to innovate in areas beyond their expertise (eg, computing, electronics and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems).

As the lines between business segments become more blurred, it is interesting to see that traditional automotive companies continue to innovate, even as technology companies become direct competitors.

Asia edges out United States

This year, six of the top 10 entities filing patents in the United States are from Asian conglomerates. This is unsurprising, as the US market still claims a high return on investment. Among the entities listed in the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100, those from Asia own more granted, in-force US patents than US entities do – by more than 30,000. The vast majority of these entities are from Japan (ie, Canon, Panasonic, Sony and Hitachi).

Though Asian entities own the majority of US assets, their ownership is consolidated to fewer key players. South Korea’s Samsung takes the top spot and probably will for the foreseeable future. Even though IBM continually outfiles other companies, its assets are also ageing; in addition, it is known for abandoning a number of its patents relatively early in their lifetimes. As Big Blue’s assets grow older, it will have to innovate more (or acquire more patent assets) to keep pace.

Very few of the entities in the listing hail from China, with just two in the top 100: Huawei and Lenovo. This may reflect alternative patent strategies. Most consumer goods manufacturers in China are dominant in the Chinese market, yet have a much smaller share of the US market and thus have fewer reasons to file in the United States. However, the future could see changes in countries of origin: this year, 45 of the top 100 companies are from the United States, but it is likely that filings from other regions will overtake those from the home front, especially as legacy patent filers lose ground.

Figure 1. Industries

M&A

M&A activity factors strongly in the positioning of the top 100 companies; some of the heavy filers are being outpaced by acquisition.

As an example, over the last several years Google has managed to move itself into a top position through a combined effort of both filing and acquiring patents for sale. Dow and Dupont, two large chemicals companies, have merged to become one behemoth. Verizon’s acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo! put it in closer IP contest with AT&T, further consolidating the top 100 list.

Even medical pharmaceuticals could be ready for a shake-up and the world may be anticipating just that. What disruptions will Bezos, Dimon and Buffet bring to this space with their recent announcement that Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway are all entering the healthcare market?

IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100 methodology

To create the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100, ktMINE analysed patent publications to determine granted and pending patent applications in good standing. Granted patents’ data includes utility patents along with design and plant patents.

Patents and applications that have expired, been abandoned or have been otherwise unmaintained are excluded from this dataset.

The data pulled for this publication is current as of January 1 2018.

ktMINE technology aggregates each granted patent and application to its corresponding corporate tree in order to create the most up-to-date and complete portfolio. Each entity is designated by the location of its corporate headquarters for supplementary analysis.

In addition, a ratio of patent application activity is included to consider the rate of an entity’s innovation. These are based upon each entity’s patent publication activity in 2017 relative to its overall portfolio of pending patent applications.

It is possible that no industry has seen more M&A and reorganisations than the semiconductors space. In the last few years alone, the market has witnessed several high-profile acquisitions: NXP and Freescale consolidated in 2015, along with Qualcomm and CSR, followed by Avago and Broadcom in 2016 and then Renesas and Intersil in early 2017. Pending the delayed acquisition of NXP by Qualcomm, not to mention Broadcom’s recently blocked bid for Qualcomm, the number of players in the semiconductor space is rapidly shrinking.

Reorganisations of patent portfolios may spread out the number of assets but many spin-offs and joint ventures will still have sufficient patent assets to protect them from litigation.

Table 1High application activity

Entity

Granted patents

Pending applications

Ratio of applications to grants

Percentage of application portfolios published in 2017

Brother Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha

9,890

704

7.1%

59.8%

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, Ltd

14,220

2,425

17.1%

52.2%

LG Display Co, Ltd

7,297

1,052

14.4%

51.7%

Renesas Electronics Corporation

9,836

862

8.8%

51.3%

Honda Motor Co, Ltd

12,660

1,658

13.1%

50.8%

Hyundai Motor Company

5,629

2,527

44.9%

49.5%

Yamaha Corporation

4,101

307

7.5%

47.9%

TDK Corporation

4,650

538

11.6%

47.2%

Murata Manufacturing Co, Ltd

5,398

1,286

23.8%

46.7%

Ford Motor Company

11,264

2,882

25.6%

46.4%

SK Group

9,158

1,425

15.6%

46.4%

Boeing Company

9,280

2,104

22.7%

46.3%

Kyocera Corporation

6,657

1,545

23.2%

46.1%

Olympus Corporation

7,070

1,880

26.6%

45.4%

Table 2High grant to application ratio

Entity

Granted patents

Pending applications

Ratio of applications to grants

Percentage of application portfolios published in 2017

Huawei Technologies Co, Ltd

8,423

5,632

66.9%

40.89%

United Technologies Corporation

9,118

5,047

55.4%

29.68%

Hyundai Motor Company

5,629

2,527

44.9%

49.54%

Halliburton Company

5,082

2,232

43.9%

37.72%

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute

5,153

2,155

41.8%

23.94%

Koninklijke Philips NV

10,133

3,982

39.3%

25.64%

F Hoffmann-La Roche

4,257

1,523

35.8%

33.36%

International Business Machines Corporation

46,443

14,855

32.0%

42.56%

Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha

13,060

4,156

31.8%

41.03%

Schlumberger Technology Corporation

7,147

2,261

31.6%

25.87%

Caterpillar, Inc

4,983

1,566

31.4%

34.67%

BASF SE

5,060

1,553

30.7%

25.82%

Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd

75,596

22,867

30.2%

31.08%

Robert Bosch GmbH

11,179

3,368

30.1%

31.50%

Lenovo Group, Ltd

4,319

1,300

30.1%

30.62%

Big year for the United States

As the world continues to wrap its head around the changing state of affairs in the United States, many companies are contemplating strategies that consider other patent venues. With its developing legal infrastructure, China is one example of a nation doing its best to show itself as a patent-friendly domain worthy of consideration. Patent filing rates here are explosive and the trumpeting of injunctions is attracting litigation action.

Filing rates in the United States hinge on corporate patent strategies, all of which depend on market demands and case law affecting the value of patents. It could be that 2018 proves to be a pivotal year in this regard. The decision in TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC has not completely muted patent litigation in the United States but it has made plaintiffs think twice. Oil States Energy Services LLC v Greene’s Energy Group, LLC – which is currently being considered by the Supreme Court – is positioned to address the constitutionality of inter partes reviews, which may completely upend the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Some question whether the PTAB process is devaluing issued patents and, subsequently, disincentivising many from spending limited resources on innovation and the patent process.

The filing rate in the United States, much like that in China, continues to run unabated. More specifically, wireless technologies remains an active space. While players such as Nokia shed assets, others such as Broadcom maintain an appetite for acquisition.

Yet despite the ambiguities brought on by legislation, case law and regional developments, the United States will still play a major role in the patent strategy of any entity, if only because it continues to be the largest economy in the world.

Table 3The IAM/ktMINE US Patent 100

Entity

Granted patents

Pending applications

Ratio of applications to grants

Percentage of application portfolios published in 2017

Entity country

Region

Industry

Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd

75,596

22,867

30.2%

31.08%

KR

Asia

Electronics

International Business Machines Corporation

46,443

14,855

32.0%

42.56%

US

North America

IT/computing

Canon Kabushiki Kaisha

38,996

7,473

19.2%

35.84%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Microsoft Corporation

33,327

7,674

23.0%

29.88%

US

North America

IT/computing

Intel Corporation

30,985

5,375

17.3%

40.45%

US

North America

Semiconductors

Panasonic Corporation

28,255

4,374

15.5%

36.44%

JP

Asia

Electronics

LG Electronics, Inc

28,235

7,483

26.5%

40.76%

KR

Asia

Electronics

Sony Corporation

28,210

6,193

22.0%

33.34%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Hitachi, Ltd

25,917

5,369

20.7%

36.56%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Toshiba Corporation

23,014

5,404

23.5%

36.05%

JP

Asia

Conglomerate

Alphabet Inc

22,875

4,233

18.5%

35.55%

US

North America

IT/computing

Qualcomm Inc

22,666

6,139

27.1%

29.65%

US

North America

Semiconductors

Broadcom

22,390

1,264

5.6%

15.51%

SG

Asia

Semiconductors

General Electric Company

20,571

5,374

26.1%

38.56%

US

North America

Conglomerate

Fujitsu, Ltd

20,368

4,278

21.0%

34.13%

JP

Asia

IT/computing

Fujifilm Corporation

18,343

2,979

16.2%

40.58%

JP

Asia

Imaging/printing

Seiko Epson Corporation

18,303

2,956

16.2%

42.59%

JP

Asia

Imaging/printing

Nokia OYJ

17,539

3,774

21.5%

20.35%

FI

Europe

Telecoms

Mitsubishi Corporation

16,939

4,608

27.2%

36.00%

JP

Asia

Conglomerate

Micron Technology, Inc

15,938

839

5.3%

39.57%

US

North America

Semiconductors

Apple, Inc

15,796

4,232

26.8%

31.14%

US

North America

Electronics

Siemens AG

15,737

3,946

25.1%

30.74%

DE

Europe

Conglomerate

Ricoh Company, Ltd

14,875

1,658

11.1%

34.68%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Texas Instruments, Inc

14,818

1,406

9.5%

41.47%

US

North America

Semiconductors

General Motors Company

14,610

1,928

13.2%

41.18%

US

North America

Automotive

Hewlett-Packard Development Company, LP

14,523

2,527

17.4%

37.71%

US

North America

IT/computing

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, Ltd

14,220

2,425

17.1%

52.25%

TW

Asia

Semiconductors

Oracle Corporation

14,118

1,964

13.9%

32.94%

US

North America

IT/computing

Medtronic, PLC

13,971

3,634

26.0%

29.97%

US

North America

Medical/pharma

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, Ltd

13,511

1,942

14.4%

17.35%

TW

Asia

Electronics

Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha

13,060

4,156

31.8%

41.03%

JP

Asia

Automotive

Honeywell International, Inc

12,893

2,406

18.7%

33.00%

US

North America

Conglomerate

Cisco Systems, Inc

12,797

1,438

11.2%

36.86%

US

North America

Telecoms

Honda Motor Co, Ltd

12,660

1,658

13.1%

50.78%

JP

Asia

Automotive

AT&T, Inc

12,437

1,990

16.0%

41.26%

US

North America

Telecoms

Dow Dupont

12,424

2,424

19.5%

23.76%

US

North America

Chemicals

Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson

12,282

3,324

27.1%

37.09%

SE

Europe

Telecoms

GlobalFoundries, Inc

12,037

970

8.1%

31.55%

US

North America

Semiconductors

Xerox Corporation

11,952

926

7.7%

32.72%

US

North America

Imaging/printing

Ford Motor Company

11,264

2,882

25.6%

46.43%

US

North America

Automotive

Robert Bosch GmbH

11,179

3,368

30.1%

31.50%

DE

Europe

Automotive

Johnson & Johnson

11,056

2,351

21.3%

28.58%

US

North America

Medical/pharma

Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha

10,930

2,050

18.8%

38.29%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Dell, Inc

10,901

2,288

21.0%

36.98%

US

North America

IT/computing

Western Digital Corporation

10,696

786

7.3%

44.53%

US

North America

IT/computing

NEC Corporation

10,357

2,847

27.5%

32.24%

JP

Asia

IT/computing

Intellectual Ventures

10,327

1,479

14.3%

18.53%

US

North America

Other

Denso Corporation

10,228

2029

19.8%

43.27%

JP

Asia

Automotive

Koninklijke Philips NV

10,133

3,982

39.3%

25.64%

NL

Europe

Conglomerate

Brother Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha

9,890

704

7.1%

59.80%

JP

Asia

Imaging/printing

Infineon Technologies AG

9,874

1,425

14.4%

42.32%

DE

Europe

Semiconductors

Renesas Electronics Corporation

9,836

862

8.8%

51.28%

JP

Asia

Semiconductors

Abbott Laboratories

9,767

2,388

24.4%

27.09%

US

North America

Medical/pharma

NXP BV

9,286

1,056

11.4%

33.52%

NL

Europe

Semiconductors

Boeing Company

9,280

2,104

22.7%

46.34%

US

North America

Other

SK Group

9,158

1,425

15.6%

46.39%

KR

Asia

Conglomerate

United Technologies Corporation

9,118

5,047

55.4%

29.68%

US

North America

Conglomerate

Boston Scientific Corporation

8,954

1,891

21.1%

31.73%

US

North America

Electronics

BlackBerry, Ltd

8,781

873

9.9%

22.91%

CA

North America

Telecoms

Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co, Ltd

8,661

1,667

19.2%

40.25%

JP

Asia

Semiconductors

Huawei Technologies Co, Ltd

8,423

5,632

66.9%

40.89%

CN

Asia

Telecoms

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development, LP

8,055

1,493

18.5%

42.53%

US

North America

IT/computing

Procter & Gamble Company

7,761

2,326

30.0%

30.22%

US

North America

Consumer goods

3M Company

7,521

2,082

27.7%

32.95%

US

North America

Conglomerate

LG Display Co, Ltd

7,297

1,052

14.4%

51.71%

KR

Asia

Consumer goods

Schlumberger Technology Corporation

7,147

2,261

31.6%

25.87%

FR

Europe

Energy

Konica Minolta, Inc

7,075

1,307

18.5%

37.03%

JP

Asia

Imaging/printing

Olympus Corporation

7,070

1,880

26.6%

45.43%

JP

Asia

Imaging/printing

STMicroelectronics NV

7,019

592

8.4%

42.91%

CH

Europe

Semiconductors

Kyocera Corporation

6,657

1,545

23.2%

46.08%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc

6,651

379

5.7%

24.80%

US

North America

Semiconductors

Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd

6,649

1,607

24.2%

41.82%

JP

Asia

Electronics

Marvell Technology Group, Ltd

6,307

247

3.9%

34.41%

BM

North America

Semiconductors

Verizon Communications, Inc

6,246

1,491

23.9%

26.49%

US

North America

Telecoms

SAP SE

5,894

1,365

23.2%

33.04%

DE

Europe

IT/computing

Applied Materials, Inc

5,801

1,492

25.7%

32.71%

US

North America

Semiconductors

Amazon.com, Inc

5,776

1,222

21.2%

37.23%

US

North America

Other

Airbus Group SE

5,631

1,553

27.6%

34.58%

FR

Europe

Other

Hyundai Motor Company

5,629

2,527

44.9%

49.54%

JP

Asia

Automotive

Murata Manufacturing Co, Ltd

5,398

1,286

23.8%

46.66%

JP

Asia

Semiconductors

Seagate Technology Public Company

5,287

379

7.2%

36.41%

IE

Europe

IT/computing

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute

5,153

2,155

41.8%

23.94%

KR

Asia

Electronics

Nike, Inc

5,123

993

19.4%

40.28%

US

North America

Consumer goods

Halliburton Company

5,082

2,232

43.9%

37.72%

US

North America

Energy

BASF SE

5,060

1,553

30.7%

25.82%

DE

Europe

Chemicals

Caterpillar, Inc

4,983

1,566

31.4%

34.67%

US

North America

Other

Monsanto Company

4,781

401

8.4%

34.41%

US

North America

Chemicals

TDK Corporation

4,650

538

11.6%

47.21%

JP

Asia

IT/computing

Industrial Technology Research Institute

4,626

704

15.2%

41.76%

TW

Asia

Electronics

Tokyo Electron, Ltd

4,538

1,068

23.5%

30.99%

JP

Asia

Semiconductors

Merck & Co, Inc

4,521

1,170

25.9%

35.81%

US

North America

Medical/pharma

Danaher Corporation

4,491

807

18.0%

29.99%

US

North America

Electronics

Lenovo Group, Ltd

4,319

1,300

30.1%

30.62%

CN

Asia

Electronics

Eastman Kodak Company

4,291

142

3.3%

15.49%

US

North America

Imaging/printing

F Hoffman-La Roche

4,257

1,523

35.8%

33.36%

CH

Europe

Medical/pharma

Nissan Motor Co, Ltd

4,256

633

14.9%

35.55%

JP

Asia

Automotive

Baker Hughes Inc

4,245

1,036

24.4%

36.39%

US

North America

Energy

Stanley Black & Decker, Inc

4,244

449

10.6%

30.29%

US

North America

Consumer goods

Yamaha Corporation

4,101

307

7.5%

47.88%

JP

Asia

Automotive

Continental AG

4,056

1,013

25.0%

38.20%

DE

Europe

Automotive

Totals / averages

1,249,378

265,277

21.2%

35.94%

 

 

 

Megan Rourke is data operations manager and Eric Podlogar is head of IP strategy and valuation at ktMINE, Chicago, United States

Get unlimited access to all IAM content