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IBM, Samsung Fight Over Patent Leadership in the U.S.

As much as those old businesses claim that their patents are used to protect their intellectual property and innovative spirit, it is often overlooked that patents have become a huge business across the planet.

For example, Microsoft recently said that it spent nearly $4.5 billion for license fees over the last decade, but it has also put 1133 license agreements in place to give licenses to its patents - and we know that Microsoft will be raking in more than $1 billion from Android vendors in the near future - annually.

IBM and Samsung are IT industry patent giants. No other company files for nearly as many patents as those two companies - and no other company gets as many patents granted as those two. At least as far as my personal records go, IBM just hit a new record high of patents granted; IBM received confirmation of a staggering 265 patents in the past week alone. Since August 1, IBM was granted the rights to 1975 patents.

However, Samsung was able to top that result. Samsung received 270 patents last week, which is the highest of any tech company over the past 6 years - at least as far as my records go. Since August 1, Samsung got 2324 new patents from the USPTO. Both IBM and Samsung are well on their way to exceed the number of the patents they received in 2010 - when IBM got 5896 and Samsung 4551. For this year, both IBM and Samsung have been granted more than 6000 patents already. 2011 is likely to be the first year in which IBM could have to surrender its patent leadership to a foreign company. So far, IBM has stood on top of the ranking since 1982.