IP Recap #42

January 11, 2018


No Surprises

Not even a drum roll as IBM tops USPTO filing stats in 2017

IBM top patent filer

The Story
IBM has retained their title as the top patent filer in the US, filing a record 9,043 patents in 2017. This means they have been at the top for 25 years, with the last time someone else topping the filings rankings being Canon in 1992 back when 1,106 filings were enough to secure that title. In 2017, IBM filed more than that figure in cloud tech (1,900 filings), AI (1,400 filings) and Cybersecurity (1,200). Other filing areas include autonomous vehicles, Blockchain and Quantum computing, showing the diversity in tech being explored.

Why it Matters
Having held the title for so long, many see it as something of a burden on IBM that in order to not appear to be going backwards or being overtaken, they must keep spending vast amounts on their IP budget in order to keep ahead of their competitors. However, there are many companies showing much greater filing growth like BOE Technology Group and Facebook, so IBM could have trouble on their hands when it comes to retaining their position and reputation in years to come.

Emerging Tech Areas

One smoking surprise

e-cigarette patents

The story
IFI Claims has compiled the US filings from last 5 years and looked at classification codes to identify emerging tech areas showing the most growth over in that time frame.  Most areas will come as no surprise to anyone who reads up on technology news, with hybrid vehicles, drones, autonomous vehicles, machine learning and 3D printing all showing inside the top 8. However, what might surprise many is that e-cigarettes actually showed the most growth over this period.

Why it Matters
On reflection, E-cigarettes are a new market that has exploded with popularity in recent years and does require some complex tech to convert the liquid into a vapor without literally exploding as some have found from cheaper devices. However, this is likely to be overtaken in the years to come as 3D printing becomes more of a mainstream manufacturing method, and autonomous vehicles make it to the mainstream outside of small pilot schemes.


Technicolor’s is the Latest Patent Licensing Business Looking to Divest

What can they get for this?


The Story
Hot on the heels of RPX’s rumoured takeover, it looks like another IP business is about to change hands. Technicolor recently told investors that they are looking to divest their patent licensing business, instead choosing to focus on their operating business.

Why it Matters
The Technicolor licensing program is one of the largest around, and the idea that this portfolio might be sold off is going to cause a big stir. However, the press release itself doesn’t explicitly say that it is only open to a transaction, so they might be open to outsourcing the licensing similar to what Blackberry has done.
It will also be interesting to see how much of the IP team will follow the portfolio, with the chief IP officer seat at Technicolor usually going on to become a big name IP player. With such a valuable portfolio on the move, does this signal a fundamental shift occurring in the business of patent licensing?

Air Taxis

Exploring the future of flying cars by looking at patent data

Curtiss Autoplane patent US1294413A

The Story
The concept of flying cars isn’t new, but are we getting closer to them being a reality? Looking at the patenting activity and what has been happening in this technology space, we pinpoint some key drivers, influencers and major players making the idea a reality.

Why it matters
Recently we had the opportunity to attend TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin. At the event, the CEO of Volocopoter predicted his air taxi would be in use somewhere in the world in the next two to three years. This week at CES, the Volocopter took flight. We thought this was an ideal time to look at the various technologies at work in this space to see just how close we are to having air taxis and who all is involved in making them happen.

Read our analysis here 

January 25 Panel Discussion and Networking Event in London

Jan 25 IP Event

Thu 25 January 2018
18:30 – 20:30 GMT
Add to Calendar

Canada Water Culture Space
21 Surrey Quays Road
SE16 7AR
View Map


Other IP News Stories

Other Tech News Stories

Learn more about our IP Recap #42 service and how it can help your business
Find out more