International Business Machines Corp. racked up more U.S. patents than any other company for the 20th straight year, helped by increasing contributions from its researchers in other countries.
IBM's 6,478 patents in 2012 mark a record for the company, research firm IFI Claims Patent Services said in a statement. South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. and Tokyo-based Canon Inc. ranked second and third. Google Inc. took a spot in the top 50 for the first time, with 15 more patents than Apple Inc.
About 30 percent of IBM's patents were produced by inventors outside the U.S., up from 22 percent in 2010. Research centers in Germany, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and Israel were especially productive, the Armonk, N.Y.-based company said. The percentage of its patents coming from overseas is expected to continue growing as newer labs in Brazil and Kenya ramp up, said Manny Schecter, IBM's chief patent counsel."
IBM's flow of patents lets the computer-services giant produce $1 billion a year in licensing revenue. The intellectual property also gives it the freedom to move into new businesses with less risk of being sued over technology.
Some technology companies get much higher royalty revenue from a smaller number of patents. Qualcomm Inc., a designer of mobile-phone chips, made $6.33 billion in technology licensing in the most recent fiscal yeareven though it's not in the top 10 of IFI's list.
Apple, whose innovations helped revolutionize computing and mobile phones, also isn't one of the biggest recipients of U.S. patents. The maker of the iPhone and iPad spends about half as much as IBM on research and development.
Even so, Apple jumped to No. 22 in this year's list, from 39th place. Google, Apple's biggest rival in smartphone software, rose to 21st place. Both companies are embroiled in lawsuits over intellectual propertyalong with other mobile-phone makers such as Samsunggiving them more incentive to increase their store of patents..
Ikea's India expansion may hit trademark roadblocks
Ikea of Sweden AB's plans to open retail stores in India may face trademark roadblocks, India's Business Standard reported.
According to the newspaper, three Indian companies registered with that country's Registrar of Companies to use the same brand name. Ikea Home Decor Private Ltd., a furniture manufacturer, has been registered since July 2011, and two other Indian companies have earlier registration dates than that, the Business Standard reported.
Although the Swedish furniture giant could go to Indian courts and claim the registrants were trying to trade on Ikea's goodwill and fame, this could take a long time if the other companies have actually registered trademarks, Business Standard reported.