The top five businesses with the highest number of patents by a company in 2016 were Google, IBM, Qualcomm, Canon, and Samsung, as reported by the researcher IFI Claims Patent Services. Every year IFI releases an annual ranking of the top 50 companies with the most patents. The research firm specializes in analysis and tracks all the utility patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

Due to IBM's research into predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, the company set a record of having earned 8,088 U.S. patents in 2016. According to the IFI report, the United States accounted for 41 percent of all received patents that year. Japan had 28 percent and South Korea had 15 percent. In addition to being a record-breaking year for IBM, 2016 overall brought an astonishing number of granted utility patents, which were 304,126 in total. That is on record as the highest number in a given year. 

Intel came in sixth place with 2,784 patents. This number is a rise with 36 percent gain from the tally of their grants for 2015. Microsoft also had a notable increase compared to the previous year. With a boost of 22 percent, the company ranked eighth place with 2,398 patents. Apple came in at the 11th spot with 2,102 granted patents. Amazon Technologies ranked 14th place with 1,662, just one spot beneath Toshiba with a 1,954 count. 

What Does the IFI Report Say About Patent Trolls?

The state of the U.S. patent system is questionable according to some critics. These people claim that in its current condition, the Patent and Trademark Office grants far too many weak patents. According to the critics, the system permits the applications of what they term "patent trolls." These are companies that merely file patent lawsuits without any production merit with intent in bringing down more productive organizations. However, it is not just critics of the United States patent system that place it under scrutiny. The Supreme Court also takes the measure of the structure into consideration. 

The Top 30 Patent Recipients 

In descending order, below lists the names of firms that were 2016's top assignees along with their respective number of utility patents, as totaled by the IFI Claims Patent Service:

  • 8,088 — IBM            
  • 5,518 — Samsung Electronics         
  • 3,665 — Canon       
  • 2,897 — Qualcomm         
  • 2,835 — Google
  • 2,784 — Intel       
  • 2,428 — LG Electronics        
  • 2,398 — Microsoft Technology Licensing        
  • 2,288 — Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • 2,181 — Sony
  • 2,102 — Apple                    
  • 2,023 — Samsung Display                    
  • 1,954 — Toshiba                   
  • 1,662 — Amazon Technologies                     
  • 1,647 — Seiko Epson                   
  • 1,646 — General Electric                  
  • 1,568 — Fujitsu                 
  • 1,552 — Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson                  
  • 1,524 — Ford Global Technologies                     
  • 1,417 — Toyota Motor      
  • 1,412 — Ricoh       
  • 1,407 — GlobalFoundries          
  • 1,400 — Panasonic Intellectual Property Management          
  • 1,207 — Robert Bosch GmbH           
  • 1,202 — Huawei Technologies          
  • 1,125 — SK Hynix         
  • 1,123 — GM Global Technology Operations        
  • 1,069 — Koninklijke Philips NV      
  • 1,054 — Semiconductor Energy Laboratory         
  • 1,053 — Boeing                      

The Top Five Inventors With the Most Patents

The records show that the following five individuals have the most patents assigned to them:

  • Kia Silverbrook — He has 3,800 granted U.S. patents, as reported in April of 2011. Since patenting his first invention in 1990, Kia has racked up 11,146 patents worldwide; 9,000 of which are patents or applications he has on file in the International Patent Document Database.
  • Shunpei Yamazaki — The Guinness Book of World Records currently names Shunpei as having more patents than any other person. He has been granted 2,591 United States utility patents and has 9,700 worldwide patents, which is cumulative of more than 40 years of inventions. 
  • Donald Weder — With 951 U.S. utility patents, Donald has become a dominating force in the floral industry. Not too many people will know him outside of this field, but on top of the utility patents granted to him, he has 409 U.S. design patents and 2,441 patents around the world. 
  • Paul Lapstun — He is an Australian inventor, like Kia Silverbrook, who co-patented the inkjet print engine with wide-format, which pushed Memjet to be a leader in the printing world. Paul has 3,379 patents across the globe, and 951 granted ones in the United States. 
  • Leonard Forbes — The Canadian native now owns and operates an Oregon-based consulting firm that works with solar cell technology. Most of his granted 946 U.S. utility patents and 2,010 patents worldwide involve thin film materials and processes, as well as, semiconductor memories. 

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