Chinese company breaks into US patent leaderboard

Shenzhen-based Hong Fu Jin Precision Industry becomes first company from China to enter top 50 patent assignee list in the United States.

Shenzhen-based Hong Fu Jin Precision Industry becomes the first Chinese company to enter top 50 patent assignee list in the United States.

In a statement Friday, IFI Claims Patent Services announced the top 50 patent assignees in the U.S. for 2012. Hong Fu Jin Precision which--was no. 52 in 2011--landed at no. 42 last year, IFI said.

2012 was also the first time Google entered the top 50 rankings. Among the top 50, Google's number of patents granted increased the fastest at 170 percent, earning it the no. 21 position with 1,151 patents.

Google edged out Apple by 15 patents. The number of patents granted to Apple grew the second fastest at 68 percent to 1,136 patents, which made it the 22nd company in the list.

IBM managed to hold on to the top spot for 20 consecutive years. It received a record 6,478 utility patents in 2012, up nearly 5 percent from 2011.

Top 10 US Patent Assignee 2012
Top 10 US Patent Assignee 2012

Asian companies continued to make up the slight majority of the top 50 ranking. Samsung was No. 2 with 5,081 patents assigned, a growth of nearly 4 percent from 2011. Canon was at no. 3 with 3,174 patents, a year-on-year increase of 12 percent, followed by Sony at no. 4 with around 33 percent increase from 2011 while Panasonic was at no. 5.

As the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not announce the number of patents it grants, the IFI calculates the figures using its proprietary algorithms and "50 years' experience analyzing USPTO data", the company said.

IFI said USPTO issued 253,155 utility patents in 2012, which was the highest annual number on record and an increase of about 13 percent over 2011.

As the list includes only actual patent grants in the U.S., the trend was different from what was observed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2011. In March 2012, WIPO announced that China led the growth in patent filing in 2011 with ZTE at the top of the ranking with 2,826 patent applications. The organization has yet to release figures for 2012.

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