In 2016, the tally of IBM patents was over 8,000, making the company the first in U.S. history to get so many within one year. IBM has many milestones for innovation.

Back in 1939, IBM's chief engineer, James W. Bryce, sat with the company's president, Thomas J. Watson, to provide an update on the patent applications he had in progress. There were six projects mentioned in the two-page letter Bryce dictated to Watson. 

The same high level of ingenuity and powerful pioneering endeavors by the IBM teams have remained steady over the many decades since the update was given by Bryce over 70 years ago. Due to this, people recognize the company as a long-standing leader in attaining patents for intellectual property and for developing new inventions.

By the end of his career, Bryce had tallied over 500 foreign and U.S. patents. Many revere him as one of the most productive inventors in the history of the United States. Some of his projects include:

  • plans for the first digital computer.
  • computing with the use of light rays.
  • magnetic data recording.

In January 1940, one of Bryce's leading associates applied for patent-protection over enhancements to an accounting device. The apparatus got used for subtracting and adding using vacuum tubes. It was this innovation that served as the foundation for electronic computers which received grand attention in the 1940s. These machines also had a direct impact on the business world during the 1950s.

IBM Leads the Way in New Ways Through Innovation

History shows a pattern that IBM has followed, which is to use innovation to produce intellectual property. You see another example of this ideology with the contributions of Herman Hollerith, who was the inventor of the electrical calculating system, which became the cornerstone of the company he started, Tabulating Machine Co. — a precursor to the IBM company.

Thomas J. Watson hired James W. Bryce as an engineering consultant in 1917. To show that Watson viewed inventing with the utmost importance, Bryce got commissioned to spend most of his time finding different ways of doing things. Then, those ways were patented

In 2005, IBM was in part responsible for setting up Linux, an open-source operating system, to be a mainstream platform for software in businesses by refusing to enforce opposition of its patents to the Linux kernel.

A few years later, IBM received 28 patents dealing with eco-friendly manufacturing and business processes when they co-founded Eco-Patent Commons. Now, anyone who has environmentally friendly intentions can use them. Also, the company has made grand efforts to boosts the national patent offices' performance, all the while taking steps to stimulate society's innovative spirit. 

Peer-to-Patent is a project in which IBM collaborated with several companies and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which allows experienced inventors to provide proof of previous inventions through the internet. With this project in effect, patent examiners can better determine an application's patent-worthiness.

IBM Is Not Slowing Down After Breaking the Patent Record

In 2016, IBM patents outnumbered their total in 2010 when the company received ranking as the number one company with the most U.S. patents for the 18th consecutive year. That year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company 5,896 protection rights for inventions. 

With IBM's record-breaking output for 2016, the company brought out various designs and devices that range from cognitive health, cloud, cognitive computing, and cybersecurity, to artificial intelligence (AI), among others. For cognitive and cloud computing and AI, designers, engineers, and researchers of IBM produced over 2,700 patents for those areas. 

The company diligently dedicates its efforts to discover new technologies. This commitment has pushed the company into different markets. With their devotedness intact, which guides their value creation for clients and employees, IBM has vowed to bring aboard 25,000 Americans as new hires throughout the next four years.

Apple, Amazon, and Google have been receiving a ton of media coverage for their recent innovations, but IBM continues to gain the most granted patents in the technological field. Last year proved to be no different from IBM's previous six years as a leader in tech patents. The company averaged a daily total of 27.2 grants for protection of inventions in 2017 and took close to 3 percent of every U.S. patent issued until August 1.

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