11 January 2007 — Armonk (NY): IBM has set the record for the most US patents earned in one year.
The company also announced plans to develop and host an Inventors’ Forum, an online initiative to share and debate ideas on how smaller enterprises view patent systems.
The announcement followed the release of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) annual list of the top patentees. With 3,621, IBM surpassed its own record and earned more US patents than any other company for the fourteenth consecutive year, exceeding the next closest patentee by 1,170.
The number of patent applications from individuals and companies of all sizes is skyrocketing, driven by companies and governments that are focused on innovation to create economic growth. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small companies earn nearly 15 times the number of patents per employee as large enterprises. Patents have become a principal means of establishing value for the creators and users of knowledge-based assets. As vital as patents are to large companies such as IBM, they are just as vital to smaller entities whose businesses or aspirations are built around a smaller number of patents.
"Smaller companies long have been the ‘silent majority’ in the invention community," said Andy Gibbs, CEO of PatentCafe, a publisher of IP management software solutions. "The sheer number of patents they generate obscures the fact that they do not have a means to actually collaborate and participate with one voice in the invention system. The Inventors’ Forum will empower these companies to voice their ideas for improving the patent system and brainstorm with peers around the world."