2017 Patent Trends and Insights

Related content

  • Top 50 list: view a list of the top 50 assignees from 2017.
  • Top 1000 list: view an expanded version of the top 50 list with each assignee's 5-year history. Login or registration required.
  • Fastest growing 2017 technologies: see which patent classifications gained momentum in 2017.
  • How we do it: learn how our data production process results in the highest quality patent data available.

A record number of patents were granted by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2017. Asia continues to be a strong player.

  • The USPTO issued 320,003 Utility Grant patents in 2017. This is a record number and a 5.2% increase over 2016’s record year.
  • US companies received 46% of these patents. Asian companies received 31% and European companies received 15%.
  • Chinese companies represent only 3.5% of 2017 US Grants, but their total of 11,240 US patents is an increase of 28% over 2016.
Roll over the charts below to interactively browse the data.

Many leading companies from 2016 continued to dominate in 2017. Facebook and BOE Technology Group made large gains.

  • IBM received the most utility grants in 2017. Their total of 9,045 is a 12% increase over their 8,088 total in 2016. 
  • Among companies that received the most patents, Intel Corp and LG Electronics both moved up two places in the rankings – putting them at #4 and #5 in IFI’s rankings. 
  • BOE Technology Group made a big jump from #40 in 2016 to #21 in 2017. Based in Beijing, BOE produces display and sensing devices. 
  • Facebook Inc jumped into the Top 50.  Their 660 utility grants give them a ranking of #50 – an impressive increase over their #86 ranking in 2016. 
  • See our 2017 Top 50 list for more details.
The automotive sector is rapidly developing new technologies, including patents in areas such as unmanned vehicle navigation and advanced manufacturing technology.
  • Companies showing impressive gains are Japanese automobile parts manufacturer Denso Corp (#35 with an increase of 23% grants from 2016), Honeywell International (#39 with an increase of 27%), Halliburton Energy Services (#44 with an increase of 35%) and Chinese Shenzhen China Star Optoelctronics (#45 with an increase of 44%).  
  • Toyota, Ford, and Hyundai also showed sizable growth.
  • See our 2017 Fastest Growing Technologies presentation for more information on emerging technology trends. 
The computing, telecommunications, and medical patent classifications continue to be strong.
  • Computers (G06F) and telecommunications (H04L) remained in the top two spots.
  • 2017 saw a big jump in specific types of data processing systems (patent class G06Q). This business methods patent class has been volatile over the last few years due to recent court decisions regarding patentability. 
  • Pharmaceuticals (A61K) and Diagnostics/Surgical (A61B) showed healthy gains. 
2017 Rank CPC 2017 2016 Change Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) Code Definition
1 G06F 48935 47919 2.12%
ELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
Top Assignee: International Business Machines Corp
Example: US-9811287-B2
2 H04L 33575 31414 6.88%
TRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
Top Assignee: International Business Machines Corp
Example: US-9811241-B2
3 H01L 26989 26741 0.93%
SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
Top Assignee: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) Ltd
Example: US-9812577-B2
4 H04W 21258 19390 9.63%
WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
Top Assignee: LG Electronics Inc
Example: US-9813957-B2
5 H04N 17996 17169 4.82%
6 A61B 13853 12640 9.60%
DIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
Top Assignee: Covidien LP
Example: US-9788755-B2
7 A61K 13624 12670 7.53%
PREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES
Top Assignee: University of California
Example: US-9782399-B2
8 G06Q 11020 9374 17.56%
9 G01N 10070 9277 8.55%
10 G02B 10060 9069 10.93%
Notes:
  • Classification Y10T “TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION” is frequently used by the USPTO and would rank #5 in 2017, but has been excluded from the Top 10 Classifications list because it does not relate to any one specific technology.
  • Y02T did not make the rankings this year, but we have included it in the past.