Nearly three years into the pandemic, the effects on the US IP industry aren’t always patently obvious. One thing we do know, however, is that changes – both big and small – are afoot in the patent landscape. Below are the highlights of IFI CLAIMS’ full analysis of US patents in 2022, a year marked by the huge news of a new corporate king in grants and the continued, deepening shift to other regions in the world.
After Nearly Three Decades As Patent Front-Runner, IBM Cedes Top Spot to Samsung
IBM has long had a culture of invention, and for 29 years running, the company topped the list of US patent grants. That’s quite a milestone. But 2022 ushers in a new era in US patent grant leadership. Samsung, the South Korean electronics company, received 6,248 grants last year, compared to IBM’s 4,398 grants. The news, we should note, was not a complete surprise. IBM announced early in 2022 that while the company planned to “remain an intellectual property powerhouse,” it would also be prioritizing specific technologies in collaborative ways and would take a “more selective approach to patenting.” IBM isn’t the only US corporate stalwart that is taking a more selective approach to their patent portfolio. GE, AT&T, Boeing, Ford, Microsoft and Apple have all dropped from previous rankings.
IBM and Samsung
Mixed Patent Results: Grants Down, But Not Out; Applications Set Record High
Since 2019, the year US patent grants hit an all-time high, the trend has steadily ticked downward. Some of the slide could be attributed to the impacts of the pandemic and the resulting work-from-home measures. Grants fell to 323,015 in 2022, from 327,321 in 2021, a 1.3% decline. Applications in 2022 continue an overall upward climb, coming in at an all-time high of 417,922, after a small turn down in 2021.
The Most Patents, Across Countries
Of the top 10 countries securing US grants, US-based companies make up more than half of the total in 2022, far surpassing other top inventing countries. Second-place Japan accumulated 16.6% of the total patents, while China, which overtook South Korea this year for third place, brought in 8.7%. Ranking fifth overall, Germany is the lead European country patenting in the US with 14,746 grants.
Patents Rising in the East, Setting in the West
Patents earned by country in any given year don’t tell the entire story. While US organizations grossed the lion’s share of total patents yet again, their take is down a steep 5.4% year-over-year. And that’s on the heels of an 8.3% decline in 2021 over 2020. In fact, half of the top 10 countries declined in 2022. China, on the other hand, has won a whopping 18.7% more grants in 2022 over 2021, earning 24,538 patents last year compared to 20,679 in the previous year. South Korea is also patenting more this year, increasing 5% over last year.
Change in Patents by Country
Continental Patent Divide
Regionally, North America posted the steepest decline in US grants in 2022, falling from 157,021 to 148,641. Europe was largely flat from 2021 to 2022. Asia, on the other hand, continues its ascent.
Change in Patents by Region
G06N Wins Again!
Although the top granted technologies in 2022 were CPC codes G06F (electrical digital data processing) and H04L (transmission of digital information), both of those classes are down by 3% year-over-year. Only two CPC codes grew in 2022. Grants of G06N (computer systems based on specific computational models), which covers such flourishing areas as machine learning, deep learning, and quantum computing, increased 35% this past year, which follows the previous year’s equally impressive growth of 35% as well. The other technology that grew this past year: G06V, which encompasses image and video recognition, increased 6%.
Change in CPC Codes for Granted Patents
Granted, But G06N Was Then; H01M Is Now
Patent grants convey important rights. But it’s good to keep in mind that patent applications show where the technology – and therefore the market – is heading. Think of patent applications as a proxy for the current strategic interests of companies inventing new technologies. As such, H01M (batteries for the conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy) is the area engaging scientific minds at the moment as automobile machinery continues to shift from combustion to electric technology. In terms of applications, H01M grew by 24% in 2022. G06N applications, on the other hand, fell by 1%. A handful of other areas grew modestly in 2022. Among them: C12N (microorganisms) up by 5%, H04W (wireless communications networks) up by 4%, and A61P (medical preparations) up by 3%.
Change in CPC Codes for Patent Applications
Learn more about the terms and methods utilized in this report.