IBM has held the top spot for more than 22 years, but unless it is granted a slew of patents by the end of the year, which experts say is extremely unlikely, Samsung will claim the top spot. The Korean company has been No. 2 for almost a decade.
So far this year, the two companies have been neck and neck: Samsung has been granted 7,679 patents and applied for 4,443 others. The comparable figures for IBM are 7,005 and 4,126, respectively.
Sqoop's report reflects patent applications filed this year as well as patenting activity from prior years, and combines patents granted to the parent company and its subsidiaries. (The U.S. Patent office does not combine company subsidiaries in its ranking, however, and thus lists Samsung's granted patents under several different subsidiary and related companies.) It takes an average of three to four years for patents to make their way through though the system.
The number of patents held by a company is impacted by many variables, including in-house research and development, mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. About 90 percent of the patents issued by the office are utility patents, also called "patents for invention," and are the focus of this story.