The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was granted 289 patents in 2009, and 186 over 2008. Apple was singled out by IFI CLAIMS for having the largest increase in the number of patents granted to the company, but even that leap pales to IBM.
Big Blue has been the world’s biggest patent engine for the last 18 years. In 2010, the company became the first to cross the 5K barrier. For added context, Big Redmond also dwarfs Apple — in 2010, Microsoft was granted some 3,094 patents.
Other notable companies in the Apple’s sphere of influence that made the Top 50 last year include Samsung (#2 with 4,551 patents), Intel (#8 with 1,653 patents), LG Electronics (#9 with 1,490), and Apple’s main outsource manufacturer, Hon Hai Precision Industry (#13 with 1,438 patents).
Apple has been filing for more patents during the last 10 years as the company’s business has grown in leaps and bounds, entering new markets such as smartphones and tablets. This was obviously a big part of Apple’s large growth in granted patents, but IFI CLAIMS also noted that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has also been trying to clear a backlog of patents (from all corners) that had been accumulating during the past few years.