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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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|
|3||International Business Machines Corp||NYSE:IBM||34,376|
|4||General Electric Co||NYSE:GE||29,021|
|5||Robert Bosch GmbH||Private||26,312|
|12||Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd||TWSE:2317||19,485|
|16||Fujifilm Holdings Corp||TYO:4901||17,867|
|18||Toyota Motor Corp||TYO:7203||17,213|
|19||LG Electronics Inc||KRX:066570||17,164|
|20||General Motors Co||NYSE:GM||14,987|
|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|
|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|
|33||Honda Motor Co Ltd||TYO:7267||12,714|
|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|
|43||Dell Technologies Inc||NYSE:DELL||11,268|
|44||Cisco Systems Inc||NASDAQ:CSCO||11,121|
|45||Johnson and Johnson||NYSE:JNJ||10,940|
|47||Koninklijke Philips NV||NYSE:PHG||10,305|
|48||Infineon Technologies AG||FWB:IFX||9,969|
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.
- Top 50 List: view a list of the top 50 assignees from 2018.
- Live 1000 Patent Ranking: create your own views of the top 1000 assignees from 2018. Login or registration required.
- 2018 Trends and Insights: read highlights prepared by our senior analyst.
- How we do it: learn how we produce the highest quality patent data available.