flag.jpgOrange County – The number of patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2010 increased by 31 percent over the previous year.  With 219,614 patents granted in 2010, it was the most substantial increase on record.  It appears that our economic slump hasn’t affected the country’s innovators and inventors.

Not surprisingly, IBM held its title as Numero-Uno Patent-Holder, a title it has managed to hold for 18 consecutive years.  The 2010 patent tally for the technology giant headquartered in New York was 5,896, a 20 percent increase from 2009.  In its 100th year of business, IBM’s patents cover a wide array of technologies including hardware and software, smart utility, traffic, and healthcare systems.  The company currently employs more than 7,000 inventors globally.

IBM is not alone with its impressive increase in patents.  Both Samsung Electronics and Microsoft were among U.S. companies listed in the top eight to retain their same positions from the year before.  Samsung was granted 4,551 patents in 2010, up 26 percent from 2009.  Microsoft again landed third place with an smaller increase of 6.5 percent but still impressive considering the soft economy.

The Patent Intelligence and Technology Report, released by IFI Claims Patent Services, has been used to report patent count data on individual companies since 2006, after the USPTO stopped publishing the information.  Every year IFI collects data to determine its annual ranking of U.S. utility patent recipients.  The majority of patents being granted are utility patents.  The annual ranking can be found at www.ificlaims.com.

According to IFI Claims Patent Services, the 2010 patent increase could be due to the USPTO’s new patent examination initiative that would speed up the patent examination process.  Under the new “Three Track” proposal, applicants would be able to pay an additional fee to request an expedited examination process.  The USPTO has also opened its first regional office in Detroit in hopes of relieving its patent examination backlog.

The USPTO’s patent initiative is part of President Obama’s plan to stimulate the economy by getting inventions to market faster.