IBM receives most U.S. patents for 23rd consecutive year

By Gene Quinn
January 13, 2016

IBM_logo_in (1)IBM once again has topped the list of annual U.S. patent recipients, receiving 7,355 patents in 2015. This is the 23rd consecutive year IBM has received more U.S. patents than any other entity in the world.

IBM’s 2015 patent results represent a diverse range of inventions as well as a strong and growing focus on cognitive solutions and the cloud platform as the company positions itself for leadership in a new era of computing. IBM inventors generated more than 2,000 patents in areas related to cognitive computing and the company’s cloud platform.

In the area of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, IBM inventors developed new technologies that can help machines learn, reason, and efficiently process diverse data types while interacting with people in natural and familiar ways.

During our most recent in depth look at IBM’s U.S. patent portfolio, without much effort we were able to find dozens of patents issued in 2015 relating to patient health, which is not surprising given IBM’s move to deploy its remarkable super computer known as Watson into the medical field. For example, data analysis of medical records and the new health discoveries that could be drawn by them are at the forefront of U.S. Patent No. 9,104,786, which is titled Iterative Refinement of Cohorts Using Visual Exploration and Data Analytics. This innovation provides an interactive system for visualizing patient cohort groups for the better analysis of medical and diagnostic histories of patients from similar demographics, supporting healthcare discovery.

Another area of innovation rewarded by achieving U.S. patent protection relates to the enhancement of patient care through machine learning. Cognitive systems use various algorithms to help generate intelligent insights used to make decisions when analyzing large and disparate data sources. These cognitive systems can be used to help medical professionals identify evidence-based treatment options for their patients. IBM inventors have patented an invention that identifies algorithms based on specific medical categories to help doctors identify personalized treatment options. The patent that covers this innovation is U.S. Patent No. 9,171,478, which is titled Learning model for dynamic component utilization in a question answering system.

IBM also took steps forward in 2015 with the receipt of a patent that describes a technology that helps machines understand emotion. For most of the history of computing, humans have had to play by the machines’ rules —mostly typing or pushing buttons to make ourselves understood. In the cognitive era, machines will increasingly listen and talk to us. A group of scientists from IBM Research’s China lab patented a system that helps machines interpret emotion-laden words so they can converse with us in more natural ways. U.S. Patent No. 9,117,446, which is titled Method and system for achieving emotional text to speech utilizing emotion tags assigned to text data, is an innovation relates to a method and system for achieving Text to Speech by determining the emotional state of the speaker. In order to accomplish this task a relationship is established between the emotional state of the speaker and the acoustical features of the speech.

Another example of IBM innovation represented in its behemoth 2015 patent portfolio relates to methods for computers learning from humans. Unlike conventional computers, cognitive systems can learn from experience. A team invented technology that helps computers understand language by interacting with humans. The goal is to help computers figure out whether they’re interacting with a human or a machine. The invention then could be used by a Web site that sells tickets to events to weed out bots controlled by scalpers, for example. U.S. Patent No. 9,146,917, which is titled Validating that a user is human, relates a mechanism for generating questions, presenting a question to a user, and using a response from the user to determine if the user is human. The method requires the generation of a first question, identification of any missing information and then the subsequent generation of a natural language second question to obtain the missing information and evaluate whether the user is really human.

“During IBM’s 23 years atop the patent list, the company’s inventors have received more than 88,000 U.S. patents. IBM’s investments in R&D continue to shape the future of computing through cognitive computing and the cloud platform that will help our clients drive transformation across multiple industries,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO. “IBM’s patent leadership demonstrates our unparalleled commitment to the fundamental R&D necessary to drive progress in business and society.”

More than 8,500 IBMers residing in 50 states and territories and 46 countries are responsible for IBM’s 2015 patent tally. IBM inventors who reside outside the U.S. contributed to more than 36 percent of the company’s 2015 patents.

The Top Ten list of 2015 U.S. patent recipients* includes:
 

RANK COMPANY PATENTS
1. IBM 7,355
2. Samsung 5,072
3. Canon 4,134
4. Qualcomm 2,900
5. Google 2,835
6. Toshiba 2,627
7. Sony 2,455
8. LG Electronics 2,242
9. Intel 2,048
10. Microsoft 1,956

 
* Data provided by IFI CLAIMS Patent Services.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a patent attorney and the founder and Editor of IPWatchdog.com. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene has worked with independent inventors and start-up businesses in a variety of different technology fields, but specializes in software, systems and electronics. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney licensed to practice before the United States Patent Office and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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Discuss this

There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. A Rational Person January 13, 2016 1:45 pm

    Gene,

    Interestingly, the only 35 USC 101 rejection during the prosecution of U.S. Patent No. 9,171,478, was for not specifying in the originally filed Claim 10 that the computer readable medium was “non-transitory”.

    Good luck to IBM if this patent is ever subject to an IPR at the PTAB or is ever reviewed by the Federal Circuit, because I do not see how the claims of this patent would survive a Section 101 challenge based on how the PTAB and Federal Circuit are currently implementing the Alice-Mayo patent eligibility test.

  2. Curious January 13, 2016 2:32 pm

    Good luck to IBM if this patent is ever subject to an IPR at the PTAB or is ever reviewed by the Federal Circuit, because I do not see how the claims of this patent would survive a Section 101 challenge based on how the PTAB and Federal Circuit are currently implementing the Alice-Mayo patent eligibility test.
    You can say that about almost any patent in the computer arts these days — just what the “efficient infringers” want. There is no infringement if there are no valid patents. The closer they can get to zero valid patents, the happier they’ll be.