IBM Tops Patents List, But Still Backs Reforms

IBM again tops the list of patents awarded in 2005, even as it announces a partnership with members of the Open Source community to promote efforts to improve the United States' patenting process.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

January 10, 2006

2 Min Read

IBM topped the list of patents awarded in 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said Tuesday as it also unveiled a partnership with the open source software community in an effort to improve the patenting process.

IBM's 2,941 patents awarded were substantially more than those received by the second place finisher, Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, which was awarded 1,828 patents. It was the 13th year in a row that IBM finished in the top spot.

Hewlett-Packard was in the third position with 1,797 and six of the top 10 spots were nailed down by Asian high-tech companies.

IBM also promoted an initiative Tuesday to bring together the USPTO with a consortium of open source software supporters including the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and other open source proponents Novell, Red Hat and VA Software.

"IBM believes that patents should be granted only for ideas that embody genuine scientific progress and technological innovation," said John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president of Technology and Intellectual Property, in a statement.

The open source consortium calls for the establishment of a database that would help ensure patent examiners have access to prior software art when they examine patents.

"For years now, we have been hearing concerns from the software community about the patent system," said U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas in a statement. "It is important that those in the open source community are joining USPTO to provide resources that are key to examining software-related applications."

In addition to seeking an improvement in prior art resources, the three-pronged initiative seeks to alert the public when USPTO publishes certain software-related applications so interested parties can come forth with relevant information. Finally, the initiative seeks to develop additional criteria to measure the quality of software patents.

Other firms finishing in the top 10 of patent awards were: Matsushita Electric Industrial, which was awarded 1,688 patents; Samsung Electronics Co., 1,641; Micron Technology, 1,561; Intel Corporation, 1,549; Hitachi, 1,271; Toshiba Corporation, 1,258' and Fujitsu Limited, 1,154.

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