2018 Ultimate Patent Owners

This new analysis calculates the world's largest active patent holders, including subsidiaries, as a snapshot in time as of December 31, 2018.

The IFI CLAIMS Ultimate Owner ranking is a completely different view of patent holdings. Rather than looking at the grants received in a given year, as the Top 50 ranking does, the Ultimate Owner ranking looks at the current cumulative patent holdings.

The Ultimate Owner report ranks parent companies by the active patent families they own. The holdings of subsidiary companies are included in the parent company's holdings.

The ranking is based on the current holdings of parent companies based on patent families.

  1. The ranking tracks parent companies – not subsidiaries. The traditional Top 50 ranking is based on the legal entities that are assigned the patent rights. These may be subsidiaries – for example “Samsung Display” is a subsidiary of “Samsung Electronics”. In the Top 50 ranking, these entities are tracked separately, but in the Ultimate Owner report, they are combined under the corporate parent. This allows IFI to track Ultimate Owners with stock ticker symbols.
  2. Patents are grouped by Family. There can be several patents (US and Foreign) associated with a single invention. In the global patent system, these patents are grouped into families. One family may contain multiple patent applications and grants. The Ultimate Owner ranking is a count of patent families owned by each company. It is not a simple count of granted patents.
  3. Patent families can change hands. The Ultimate Owner family count is based on the current ownership of the patent families. For example, Global Foundries is ranked #41 in the Ultimate Owner rankings. Many of their patents were acquired from IBM. IBM is committed to innovation and patenting, but often sells their patented innovations rather than developing products around them.
  4. Patent families can expire or lapse. Patents are only in effect for a limited period of time – typically 20 years from the initial filing date. Patent owners may also allow a patent to lapse before the 20 year anniversary by not paying required maintenance fees. The patent family ranking is based on active patent families only. IFI counts a family as active if at least one grant is active in a jurisdiction somewhere – not necessarily the US.

From that perspective, the Ultimate Ranking looks quite different from the annual Top 50 ranking. Samsung (including its subsidiaries) has the most active patent families by a wide margin.

Rank Ultimate Owner Ticker Symbol Active Families
1 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd KRX:005930 61,608
2 Canon Inc TYO:7751 34,905
3 International Business Machines Corp NYSE:IBM 34,376
4 General Electric Co NYSE:GE 29,021
5 Robert Bosch GmbH Private 26,312
6 Panasonic Corp TYO:6752 25,742
7 Siemens AG ETR:SIE 25,154
8 Microsoft Corp NASDAQ:MSFT 24,839
9 Intel Corp NASDAQ:INTC 24,773
10 Qualcomm Inc NASDAQ:QCOM 20,315
11 Nokia Oyj NYSE:NOK 19,909
12 Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd TWSE:2317 19,485
13 Alphabet Inc NASDAQ:GOOGL 19,228
14 Sony Corp TYO:6758 18,981
15 Fujitsu Ltd TYO:6702 18,259
16 Fujifilm Holdings Corp TYO:4901 17,867
17 Hitachi Ltd TYO:6501 17,597
18 Toyota Motor Corp TYO:7203 17,213
19 LG Electronics Inc KRX:066570 17,164
20 General Motors Co NYSE:GM 14,987
21 DowDuPont Inc NYSE:DWDP 14,982
22 United Technologies Corp NYSE:UTX 14,280
23 Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson AB NASDAQ:ERIC 14,173
24 Seiko Epson Corp TYO:6724 14,152
25 Toshiba Corp TYO:6502 14,074
26 Volkswagen AG VOW:Xetra 13,797
27 Texas Instruments Inc NASDAQ:TXN 13,608
28 Ricoh Co Ltd TYO:7752 13,570
29 Broadcom Inc NASDAQ: AVGO 13,442
30 Ford Motor Co NYSE:F 13,335
31 Oracle Corp NYSE:ORCL 13,125
32 HP Inc NYSE:HPQ 12,799
33 Honda Motor Co Ltd TYO:7267 12,714
34 Denso Corp TYO:6902 12,405
35 Apple Inc NASDAQ:AAPL 12,325
36 Medtronic PLC NYSE:MDT 11,972
37 Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) Ltd NYSE:TSM 11,916
38 Honeywell International Inc NYSE:HON 11,728
39 Mitsubishi Electric Corp TYO:6503 11,530
40 Huawei Investment and Holding Co Ltd Private 11,425
41 GlobalFoundries Inc Private 11,394
42 BASF SE FBW:BAS 11,302
43 Dell Technologies Inc NYSE:DELL 11,268
44 Cisco Systems Inc NASDAQ:CSCO 11,121
45 Johnson and Johnson NYSE:JNJ 10,940
46 Continental AG FBW:CON 10,583
47 Koninklijke Philips NV NYSE:PHG 10,305
48 Infineon Technologies AG FWB:IFX 9,969
49 Xerox Corp NYSE:XRX 9,900
50 NEC Corp TYO:6701 9,829

Note: Johnson and Johnson was added to the list at position 45 on February 22, 2019 due to an oversight. This resulted in the removal of Boeing Company, previously at position 50.

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