Top 5 US patent trends in 2021

Patents have slowed since the COVID-19 pandemic, but that hasn’t completely stopped companies from filing them. Tom Merritt lists the top five US patent trends this year.

Patent filings aren’t a perfect way of measuring a company’s innovative prowess, but it is an indicator. With 2020 putting the brakes on a lot of things, it’s interesting to see what looking at patents can tell us about what didn’t stop. Thanks to IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, we have some stats on who patented what, who got granted patents, and what they got granted for. Here are the top five US patent trends going into 2021.

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  1. COVID-19 slowed things down a bit, but the resurgence is already underway. 352,013 patents were granted in the US in 2020, almost even with the 354,428 granted in 2019 and still up 13 percent over 2018. Patent applications rose 5% in 2020, indicating we should see a boost again in 2021.
  2. IBM got the most patents in 2020, with 92,130 patents granted. This is down about 1% over the previous year’s top number. Samsung was a distant second with 6,415, followed by Canon, Microsoft and Intel.
  3. Samsung still holds the most patents in the US at 80,577 (up 5%). Despite being second to IBM in number granted Samsung has a sizable lead over IBM in second place with 38,541 patents held.
  4. Computer systems based on biological models was the fastest growing technology patent category, up 67%. Electrical digital data processing was the most applied for and most granted category.
  5. “The FAANG companies don’t do as well at the patent game.” Apple ranked No. 8 with 2,792, Amazon No. 11, Google No. 17, Facebook No. 28, and Netflix didn’t rank.

You may think some of this is patently obvious, I’ll grant you, but if you apply this knowledge in certain ways you may find a novel insight or two.

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