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IBM Tops Apple and Microsoft to Take U.S. Patent Crown

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- IBM (IBM) received the most U.S. patents in 2013, according to data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and IFI Claims patent service, as the hardware, software and services giant continued its aggressive pace of innovation.

The tech bellwether was comfortably ahead of Samsung, Canon, Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT), which leapfrogged Panasonic to take fifth place. Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) climbed to 11th and 13th place, respectively, in the annual list.

This is the 21st consecutive year that IBM has led the ranking of U.S. patent leaders. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company was awarded 6,809 patents in 2013, up slightly from 6,478 in 2012. Here's the top 10 list of 2013 patent winners:

  1. IBM 6,809
  2. Samsung 4,676
  3. Canon 3,825
  4. Sony 3,098
  5. Microsoft 2,660
  6. Panasonic 2,601
  7. Toshiba 2,416
  8. Hon Hai 2,279
  9. Qualcomm 2,103
  10. LG Electronics 1,947

There were plenty of other tech heavyweights on the list. Google was awarded 1,851 patents in 2013, a sharp increase from 1,151 in 2012, when it took 21st place on the list. Apple, with 1,775 patents, has also increased its pace of innovation from 2012, when it was awarded 1,136 patents and held 22nd place.

Intel (INTC), HP (HPQ) and BlackBerry (BBRY) were in 18th, 19th and 20th place, respectively, in the 2013 list. Chipmaker Intel was awarded 1,455 patents, up from 1,290 last year. HP, which is in the throes of a massive corporate overhaul, brought in 1,360 patents, down slightly from 1,394 in 2012. Embattled smartphone maker BlackBerry received 1,334 patents in 2013, a significant increase from 986 in 2012, when it operated as Research In Motion.

A number of IBM's 2013 patents are in a technology area the company describes as "cognitive computing" in which computers can learn and interact with people in a natural fashion. One of the best examples of this is IBM's Watson supercomputer, which made a headline-grabbing debut on quiz show Jeopardy in 2011.

Last week, at a glitzy New York event, Big Blue announced a $1 billion investment in Watson and a business unit devoted solely to its supercomputer technology. Based at 51 Astor Place in New York's "Silicon Alley" tech hub, the Watson Group will focus on cloud-based innovation and also will help customers cope with the challenge of big data.

Big data refers to the management of vast quantities of unstructured data, or information that is outside the realm of traditional databases. Examples include email messages, PowerPoint presentations, audio, video and social media information.

IBM shares rose 0.27% to $184.67 during Wednesday trading.

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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