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IBM and Samsung top 2012 patent list

The patent wars raged in 2012 - from Apple's huge $1.05 billion (£650.5m) win over Samsung in August to the FTC requiring Google to license standard essential patents in December.

Those fights show no signs of slowing down, as tech firms continued to gobble up new patents throughout the year. According to a new list of the top patent recipients in 2012, IBM nabbed the largest number of patents, followed by Samsung and Canon.

IBM ended the year with 6,478 new patents, according to IFI Claims Patent Services, which compiled its list based on US Patent and Trade Office data. IBM is no stranger to the list; this is the 20th consecutive time Big Blue has earned the top spot. Since 1993, it has been awarded almost 67,000 patents.

In a statement, IBM said those patents will "enable fundamental advancements across key domains including analytics, Big Data, cybersecurity, cloud, mobile, social networking and software defined environments, as well as industry solutions for retail, banking, healthcare, and transportation. These patented inventions also will advance a major shift in computing, known as the era of cognitive systems."

IBM said its patent tally was reached via 8,000 IBM inventors, spanning some 35 different countries. IBM inventors who lived overseas contributed nearly 30 per cent of the company's 2012 US patent output.

Coming in at number two meanwhile, was Samsung with 5,081 patents. The South Korean company had a huge 2012, topping Nokia as the biggest phone maker in the world for the first time in 14 years, and also taking the crown as king of smartphones.

But its patent battles against Apple were not as sucessful, and the company is still fighting the Cupertino-based firm on patents around the globe. Apple landed in the 22nd slot on the patent list with 1,136 new patents in 2012.

Rounding out the top five, meanwhile, was Canon with 3,174 patents, Sony with 3,032, and Panasonic with 2,769.

Not surprisingly, the list of 50 patent holders (see chart, below) was dominated by tech giants, with Microsoft (2,613), Toshiba (2,447), Foxconn owner Hon Hai (2,013), and LG all landing in the top 10. But HP, Qualcomm, Intel, Google, and Sharp were also awarded more than 1,000 patents each last year.