Apple was granted over 1,100 patents in the United States during 2012, according to the Annual Patent Rankings, released earlier this week. The number represents a roughly 50 percent increase over the number of patents granted to the Cupertino company in 2011.
Despite its strong performance, technology services firm IBM dominated Apple and other companies on the list with 6,478 patent grants on the year, a total that kept it in the number one spot for the twentieth consecutive year.
Overall, Apple was granted 1,136 patents on the year, coming in 22nd place behind firms such as Samsung, Microsoft, HP, and Google, but ahead of Sharp, RIM, Micron, Cisco, and AT&T. Apple supplier Foxconn’s parent company, Hon Hai Precision, finished in the top 10, with 2,013 patent grants.
Although Google obtained only a few more patents than Apple, the Mountain View company’s portfolio grew at a staggering rate, with its 2012 totals representing a 170 percent increase over those from 2011, although many of those patents were acquired by Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility and may be of little value in offensive litigation for the company.
“Google and Apple are clearly taking intellectual property very seriously, and playing to win,” Mike Baycroft, chief executive of patent research firm IFI told The New York Times.
Perhaps most alarming for Apple was the performance of industry and legal rival Samsung. The Korean company placed second overall in number of patents granted, with 5,081. Apple and Samsung have engaged in a bitter rivalry for the past several years, with Apple bringing, and winning, a major patent lawsuit against the Asian electronics firm last summer. Although Samsung patents technologies in many product areas, the company’s embarrassing defeat and subsequent comments from its executives make clear that it plans to pursue patent suits against Apple in the future if given the opportunity.
The full list of 2012 patent grants by company can be viewed here.
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