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American Companies Capture Less than Majority of 2009 U.S. Patent Pool

Second Year Running, Foreign Firms Take Slight Collective Lead Despite Substantial Individual Gains by U.S. Firms

WILMINGTON, Del., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- For the second straight year, foreign companies collectively captured a slight majority of new U.S. patents awarded to corporations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). According to an annual corporate ranking released today by IFI Patent Intelligence (www.ificlaims.com), part of Wolters Kluwer, U.S. corporations garnered 49 percent of all U.S. utility patents issued in 2009 with the remainder going to foreign firms. This is only the second time that foreign companies collectively received more U.S. patents than U.S.-based firms.

"It's foolhardy to use this statistic to infer that American firms are losing ground to foreign competitors because with patents it's important to consider quality, as well as quantity," said Darlene Slaughter, general manager of IFI Patent Intelligence. "What we're seeing this year is that innovation in American firms is far from declining, in fact, many had impressive gains and several posted record numbers of total new patents."

As a whole, U.S. companies received approximately 7 percent more utility patents in 2009 than in 2008, compared to 6.5 percent by foreign companies. The U.S. also received more than twice as many corporate patents than Japan (23%), the country with the second most U.S. patents issued in 2009. South Korea (5.6%) moved into third place displacing Germany (5.2%) for the first time.

#1 IBM Approaches 5,000-Patent Mark, Sets All-Time High

Collectively, U.S. firms may be slightly behind foreign firms as a group, but individually, they showed significant improvement over 2008. For example, IBM achieved an all-time high for any company of 4,914, up 17 percent. Microsoft took over the #3 slot boosting its total patents by 43 percent. IFI observed several additional impressive year-over-year gains by U.S. firms in the top 50:

  • Boeing, up 26%
  • Broadcom, up 11%
  • Cisco, up 30%
  • General Electric, up 7%
  • GM Global, up 68%
  • Honeywell, up nearly 6%
  • Sun, up 10%
  • Xerox, up 18%

Although the margin of patent dominance between U.S. and non-U.S. firms is slight and has been for several years, there is no uncertainty that foreign firms are adding patents at a frenetic pace. "Interest in protecting corporate intellectual property has become intense both in the U.S. and abroad, and as a result we're seeing an increased level of patent activity," continued Slaughter. "The silver lining may be that the high priority foreign firms place on U.S. patents is a confirmation of the value and importance that the U.S. market represents."

Great Recession Yet to Stem Flow

According to IFI's analysis, the USPTO issued a total of 167,350 utility patents in calendar year 2009, up 6.1% over 2008, and approaching the all-time high of 173,772 set in 2006. It would appear that the economic downturn of the past two years has yet to slow the flow of U.S. patent activity. However, the USPTO posted a 1.8 percent decrease in patent applications for its fiscal year 2009 for a total of 457,966, the first annual decrease in applications since fiscal year 1996. As a result, this decrease could translate into fewer patent issues in the coming two or three years.

IFI Posts 2009's Top-50 Patent Recipients

Employing proprietary authority lists and algorithms to enhance the speed and accuracy of the culling process, IFI analyzed 2009 calendar year USPTO data and prepared what has become the official ranking of U.S. patent assignees. The company posted the 2009 top-50 today on its website at www.ificlaims.com:

    Rank              Company Name                 2009 Patents

     2   SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO LTD KR                 3611
     3   MICROSOFT CORP                                2906
     4   CANON K K JP                                  2206
     5   PANASONIC CORP JP (1)                         1829
     6   TOSHIBA CORP JP                               1696
     7   SONY CORP JP                                  1680
     8   INTEL CORP                                    1537
     9   SEIKO EPSON CORP JP                           1330
    10   HEWLETT-PACKARD DEVELOPMENT CO L P (2)        1273
    11   FUJITSU LTD JP                                1220
    12   LG ELECTRONICS INC KR                         1065
    13   HITACHI LTD JP                                1058
    15   RICOH CO LTD JP                                988
    16   GENERAL ELECTRIC CO                            979
    17   MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC                          966
    18   CISCO TECHNOLOGY INC                           913
    19   FUJIFILM CORP JP                               880
    20   HONDA MOTOR CO LTD JP                          774
    21   DENSO CORP JP                                  745
    22   SIEMENS AG DE                                  716
    23   BROADCOM CORP                                  714
    24   SHARP K K JP                                   657
    25   HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC                    655
    26   TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC                          652
    27   NOKIA AB OY FI                                 648
    28   XEROX CORP                                     624
    29   INFINEON TECHNOLOGIES AG DE                    605
    30   LG DISPLAY CO LTD KR (3)                       597
    31   HYNIX SEMICONDUCTOR INC KR                     587
    32   SUN MICROSYSTEMS INC                           561
    34   BOEING CO THE                                  534
    35   BROTHER KOGYO K K JP                           532
    35   MITSUBISHI DENKI K K JP                        532
    35   TOYOTA JIDOSHA K K JP                          532
    39   NEC CORP JP                                    526
    41   SILVERBROOK RESEARCH PTY LTD AU                474
    42   BOSCH, ROBERT GMBH DE                          467
    43   AT&T INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY I L P               444
    44   SANYO ELECTRIC CO LTD JP                       443
    45   FUJI XEROX CO LTD JP                           425
    46   SAMSUNG SDI CO LTD KR                          423
    47   ALCATEL-LUCENT USA INC                         413
    49   NEC ELECTRONICS CORP JP                        391
          NETHERLANDS B V NL                            385

    (1)  includes 58 patents issued to former company name Matsushita Electric
          Industrial Co JP
    (2)  includes 4 patents issued to Hewlett-Packard Co
    (3)  includes 1 patent issued to former company name LG Philips LCD Co KR

Market sectors with the heaviest new patent activity include Multiplex Communications (US class 370) and Semiconductors (US classes 438 and 257), representing almost 15,000 patents total for 2009. The bio sectors of Drug Compositions (US class 514) had 3,474 patents and Biotechnology (US class 435) had over 2,700 patents issued, up 17 percent and 1 percent respectively over the previous year.

IFI compiles its list using the powerful indexing and standardization algorithms of CLAIMS®, the most reliable, text-searchable database of U.S. patents in the world. The collection of CLAIMS® databases makes searching for patent data accurate and efficient. CLAIMS® is available via Dialog, STN International and Questel.

For more than 50 years, IFI has been the preeminent producer of patent databases. Complete information on more than 1,800 companies worldwide that received 10 or more U.S. patents in 2009 will be published in IFI's Patent Intelligence and Technology Report, available in May. For more information, visit www.ificlaims.com.

About IFI Patent Intelligence

For more than 50 years, IFI Patent Intelligence (Wilmington, DE), part of Wolters Kluwer, has been the preeminent producer of enhanced U.S patent databases. From the most rigorous U.S. assignee name standardization process in the industry, to continual class code updates, and comprehensive indexing for chemical patents -- IFI has built a solid reputation in patent databases. For more information, visit www.IFIclaims.com or call 800-331-4955 or 302-633-7200, or contact [email protected].

About Wolters Kluwer

Wolters Kluwer is a leading global information services and publishing company. The company provides products and services for professionals in the health, tax, accounting, corporate, financial services, legal, and regulatory sectors. Wolters Kluwer had 2008 annual revenues of euro 3.4 billion ($4.9 billion), employs approximately 20,000 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 35 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. Visit www.wolterskluwer.com for information about our market positions, customers, brands, and organization.

    Tom Kivett
    Kivett & Company Communications
    +1 212 727 2935
    [email protected]

SOURCE Wolters Kluwer

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