Apple Has the Most Powerful Patent Portfolio in Consumer Electronics

New Patent Power Scorecards show U.S. companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo inventing their way to global dominance

4 min read
Apple Has the Most Powerful Patent Portfolio in Consumer Electronics
Illustration: Jonathan Carlson

The U.S. economy might be sputtering along, but its engines of innovation are still growling like a hemi, according to our latest Patent Power scorecards. [Download the PDF of all the Patent Scorecards.] Apple was the biggest mover on this year’s scorecards, surging from 14th place in the 2009 Electronics scorecard to first place in 2010, and the company is now ranked ahead of industry giants Hitachi, Panasonic, Canon, and Sony.

Apple’s commitment to innovation can be seen in both its number of patents, and the quality of these patents. In 2010, Apple was granted a total of 566 U.S. utility patents, a fivefold increase over the 110 U.S. utility patents it was granted in 2006. And this number does not include patents it acquired from elsewhere—for example, as part of the consortium that recently purchased the Nortel Networks patent portfolio. Rather, these are patents that issued under Apple’s name or the names of its subsidiaries, and so are largely the results of internal research efforts.

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Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

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Steve Marcus/Reuters/Alamy

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