IBM Receives Most U.S. Patents for Sixth Consecutive Year

Shatters Previous Record by More Than 40 Percent

Select a topic or year

Armonk, N.Y - 11 Jan 1999: . . . For the sixth consecutive year, IBM was awarded the most U.S. patents in 1998, shattering the previous record by more than 40 percent.

The company received 2,658 U.S. patents in 1998 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, earning 934 more patents than it did in 1997, and eclipsing the next closest company by 38 percent. IBM is the first company ever to break the 2,000 U.S. patent issuance barrier in a single year.

The results were reported today by IFI/Plenum Data Corporation, which compiles the CLAIMS(c) patent database and annually reports on the number of patents issued to companies.

"Our patent success over the past six years is directly contributing to IBM's growth and is instrumental in helping our customers establish themselves as e-businesses," said Nicholas Donofrio, senior vice president, technology and manufacturing. "More than a third of the technologies represented by these patents already show up in products and solutions currently available from IBM, and in 1999, many more will reach the marketplace both in IBM products and those of our licensees."

IBM's 1998 U.S. patent portfolio includes more than 700 software-related patents and over 375 related to network computing. Several dozen patents are also directly related to two major chip breakthroughs announced last year, silicon germanium and silicon-on-insulator. Both technologies will be crucial in the industry's development of a new class of "pervasive computing" devices -- handheld and embedded products such as smart phones and Internet appliances that business professionals and consumers will rely on for easy access to e-business data and services.

IBM maintains one of the broadest ranges of patented technologies in the information technology industry, covering all aspects of networking, computer systems, large servers, semiconductors, microprocessors, memory chips, storage, and software applications. The company's intellectual property portfolio generates more than $1 billion annually.

"Our commitment to research and development is helping to create significant new business opportunities for IBM and the entire information technology industry," said Marshall Phelps, Jr., vice president of intellectual property and licensing for IBM. "Many of the most exploratory, risky projects of recent years are now having great impact across all our business lines."

The previous record for the most U.S. patents issued to a company in a single year was also established by IBM, with nearly 1,900 patents in 1996. The number of U.S. patents awarded to IBM in the five previous years were:

1993: 1,085
1994: 1,298
1995: 1,383
1996: 1,867
1997: 1,724

Other companies in the top ten for 1998 were Canon with 1925; NEC with 1628; Motorola with 1406; Sony with 1315; Samsung with 1305; Fujitsu with 1190; Toshiba with 1171; Eastman Kodak with 1125; and Hitachi with 1094. (All totals are based on data from IFI/Plenum Data Corporation and have been adjusted by IBM so that patents assigned to two or more organizations are counted only for the first-appearing assignee.)

Selected Patents

Among the U.S. patents issued for IBM inventions in 1998 are:

US 5739545: Organic light emitting diodes having transparent cathode structures
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLED) offer new applications for display technologies due to their brightness, high resolution, energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. This patent will lead to improved performance of these displays. OLEDs, mostly made of organic materials such as polymers, can bend around corners and stretch for use in applications ranging from wearable computers to large area displays used in venues such as airports and train stations.

US 5815573: Cryptographic key recovery system
This patent provided IBM with a means for exporting strong cryptography to foreign customers, while meeting the U.S. Government's export regulations. Strong cryptography is a key enabling technology for secure e-business. Based in part on this patent, the key recovery features of IBM's Keyworks product line are in full compliance with the technical recommendations proposed by the Key Recovery Alliance, a consortium of companies and organizations working together to find the best approach to meeting the Government's requirements.

US 5770881: SOI FET Design to Reduce Transient Bipolar Current
This patent is a critical component of IBM's Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technique, which enables chip designers to build higher performance microprocessors for servers and mainframes as well as lower power chips for handheld and battery-operated pervasive computing devices. SOI provides an insulating layer beneath transistors on a chip, improving their electrical characteristics and allowing their designs to be further optimized. Products using this technology will be introduced later this year.

US 5774868: Automatic sales promotion selection system and method
This e-business system uses neural networks to help businesses identify promising sales promotions based on customer purchasing patterns. It receives customer data, measures it against a database of inventory items and other customer purchases, and then suggests the most promising sales opportunities to meet both the customer's and merchant's needs.

US 5818446: System for changing user interfaces based on display data content
This user interface software allows content to be displayed based on the specific interests and information needs of multiple users. For example, the system could be used to provide several different customized interfaces on the same family PC, with user-friendly content for children and more sophisticated information for adults. Another application of this technology is converting information that normally would be displayed on one device (such as a desktop PC) so that it would still be accessible on another device capable of displaying less data (such as a personal digital assistant).

IBM's Intellectual Property Network Site at offers free access on information for all U.S. patents granted since 1971. Full images of 2.1 million U.S. patents issued since 1974 are available, as well. In October 1998, the site added European Patents and published International Patent applications.

# # #

IBM news releases are available on the Internet, via the IBM Home Page at

(c) CLAIMS is a service mark of IFI/Plenum Data Corp. Reg. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Related XML feeds
Topics XML feeds
Financial news, company earnings, philanthropy, community service, human resources, sponsorship
Chemistry, computer science, electrical engineering, materials and mathematical sciences, physics and services science