The world’s 50 most innovative companies

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, file photo, the campus of Micron Technology Inc. in Boise, Idaho is seen. Micron‘s chips, which are found in computers, cars and mobile devices, are benefiting from consolidation in the industry. Sales of its memory chips boomed in 2013.(Photo: Charlie Litchfield, AP)

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With a GDP of nearly $19 trillion and a population in excess of 323 million, the United States is the largest consumer market in the world.

As such, global corporations make doing business in the U.S. a priority. To take full advantage of this market, American and foreign companies must protect their proprietary innovations and inventions through patent grants.

Of the three types of patents — utility, design, and plant — utility patents relate specifically to inventions and innovations, including any improvements to existing processes, products, and materials. As measured by utility patents, 2017 was a record-breaking year for corporate innovation. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted companies more than 320,000 patents last year — up 5.2% from the previous record of 304,126 patents granted the year before.

Rates of innovation vary considerably from one industry to the next and from one part of the world to the next. For example, a handful of industries — namely computing, telecommunications, and medicine — accounted for the bulk of innovations last year. Meanwhile, American companies accounted for 46% of patents granted in 2017, companies based in Asia accounted for 31%, and European companies accounted for 15%.

Of the thousands of American and international companies that were granted patents last year, just a few major corporations accounted for a massive share of global innovation. Fifty companies alone — including America’s most recognizable tech companies: Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon — accounted for about 30% of patents.

Patent research company tracks which specific entities are issued patents. As multiple entities are often owned by a single parent corporation, 24/7 Wall St. combined patent grants issued to the same parent company to identify the world’s 50 most innovative companies. While each company on this list was granted at least 700 patents last year, the companies at the top of the list secured thousands.

50. Sharp

  • 2017 patent grants: 748
  • 2016 patent grants: 888
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Televisions, home appliances, smartphones

49. Oracle

  • 2017 patent grants: 753
  • 2016 patent grants: 667
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Database software and cloud storage systems

48. Micron Technology

  • 2017 patent grants: 802
  • 2016 patent grants: 863
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Computer accessories and storage

47. NEC

  • 2017 patent grants: 820
  • 2016 patent grants: 890
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: IT and communications services

46. Honeywell International

  • 2017 patent grants: 856
  • 2016 patent grants: 673
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Consumer products, aerospace engineering

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45. Nokia

  • 2017 patent grants: 890
  • 2016 patent grants: 908
  • Country: Finland
  • Products: Mobile phones, computers, tablets

44. Koninklijke Philips

  • 2017 patent grants: 905
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,070
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Products: Lighting, televisions, personal health products

43. Honda Motor

  • 2017 patent grants: 910
  • 2016 patent grants: 922
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Automobiles

42. Texas Instruments

  • 2017 patent grants: 923
  • 2016 patent grants: 888
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Semiconductors, educational technology

A skeleton model of a vehicle is seen on display at the Denso booth during the Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo on October 25, 2017. (Photo: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA, AFP/Getty Images)

41. Denso

  • 2017 patent grants: 929
  • 2016 patent grants: 757
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Auto parts

40. SK Hynix

  • 2017 patent grants: 942
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,126
  • Country: South Korea
  • Products: Semiconductors, memory chips

39. GlobalFoundries

  • 2017 patent grants: 950
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,501
  • Country: Cayman Islands
  • Products: Semiconductors

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38. NXP Semiconductors

  • 2017 patent grants: 950
  • 2016 patent grants: 998
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Products: Semiconductors, auto parts

37. Cisco Systems

  • 2017 patent grants: 967
  • 2016 patent grants: 978
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Software, routers, internet security

36. Semiconductor Energy Laboratory

  • 2017 patent grants: 977
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,054
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Semiconductors

35. HP

  • 2017 patent grants: 984
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,051
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Computers, printers

34. Infineon Technologies

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,005
  • 2016 patent grants: 903
  • Country: Germany
  • Products: Semiconductors

Xerox Corp. signage stands outside the company's headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. Xerox Corp. is rewinding the clock, splitting off a services business it acquired a little more than five years ago — the latest tech giant taking drastic action to cope with a rapidly changing marketplace. (Photo: Douglas Healey, Bloomberg)

33. Xerox

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,026
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,215
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Printers

32. General Motors

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,066
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,124
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Automobiles

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31. Kyocera

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,144
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,132
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Mobile phones, consumer electronics, power tools

30. Ricoh

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,145
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,412
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Printers, cameras, watches, IT services

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29. Boeing

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,177
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,055
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Aerospace and military technology

28. Robert Bosch GmbH

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,234
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,209
  • Country: Germany
  • Products: Industrial technology, consumer electronics

27. AT&T

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,265
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,232
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Telecommunications, entertainment, technology

epa06335482 View of the entrance of German industrial conglomerate Siemens headquarters in Berlin, Germany, 17 November 2017. German industrial conglomerate Siemens said it would slash around 6,900 jobs worldwide, hundreds of them in Germany. (Photo: FELIPE TRUEBA, EPA-EFE)

26. Siemens

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,337
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,337
  • Country: Germany
  • Products: Home appliances, automation systems, healthcare technology

25. Seiko Epson

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,406
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,650
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Printers, projectors, wearable products

24. Hyundai Motor

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,451
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,162
  • Country: South Korea
  • Products: Automobiles

23. Hitachi

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,497
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,534
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Telecommunication, power systems, consumer electronics

22. Telefonaktiebolaget L.M. Ericsson

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,552
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,552
  • Country: Sweden
  • Products: IT services, public safety management, electronic components

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21. Fujitsu

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,604
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,636
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Semiconductors, operating systems, computer storage

20. Huawei Technologies

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,616
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,353
  • Country: China
  • Products: Mobile phones, tablets, routers, IT infrastructure

19. General Electric

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,742
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,871
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Home appliances, jet engines, commercial lending

18. Panasonic

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,787
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,977
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Cameras, home appliances, televisions

Visitors are seen at the stand of car maker Ford during the 'Essen Motor Show' fair in Essen, western Germany, on December 1, 2017. According to the organisers, more than 500 exhibitors will present their innovations and premieres at the fair grounds in Essen from December 2 to 10, 2017. (Photo: PATRIK STOLLARZ, AFP/Getty Images)

17. Ford Motor

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,868
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,525
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Automobiles

16. Mitsubishi

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,916
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,701
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Automobiles, air conditioners, power generation systems

15. Amazon

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,963
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,672
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Consumer products, e-readers, TV and movie streaming

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14. BoE Systems

  • 2017 patent grants: 1,999
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,340
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Data collection and processing

13. Toshiba

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,073
  • 2016 patent grants: 2,437
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Laptops, hard drives, digital displays, business solutions

12. Apple

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,229
  • 2016 patent grants: 2,103
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Mobile phones, computers, tablets, software

11. Sony

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,331
  • 2016 patent grants: 2,298
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Digital cameras, televisions, speakers, mobile phones

10. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,425
  • 2016 patent grants: 2,288
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Products: Semiconductors

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue, Washington on November 29, 2017. (Photo: JASON REDMOND, AFP/Getty Images)

9. Microsoft

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,441
  • 2016 patent grants: 2,410
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Software, operating systems, mobile phones

8. Toyota Motors

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,446
  • 2016 patent grants: 1,877
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Automobiles, automobile accessories

7. Qualcomm

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,628
  • 2016 patent grants: 2,925
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Semiconductors, cellular modems, telecommunications equipment

6. Alphabet

  • 2017 patent grants: 2,709
  • 2016 patent grants: 3,219
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Search engine, internet browser, laptops

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5. Canon

  • 2017 patent grants: 3,285
  • 2016 patent grants: 3,665
  • Country: Japan
  • Products: Cameras, camcorders, printers

4. Intel

  • 2017 patent grants: 3,435
  • 2016 patent grants: 3,080
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Personal computers, consumer electronics, processors

3. LG Electronics

  • 2017 patent grants: 4,469
  • 2016 patent grants: 4,013
  • Country: South Korea
  • Products: Mobile phones, televisions, home appliances

2. Samsung

  • 2017 patent grants: 8,894
  • 2016 patent grants: 8,470
  • Country: South Korea
  • Products: Mobile phones, televisions, home appliances

A file photo dated 15 December 2015 showing the logo of IBM seen at the entrance to the Highlight Towers in Munich, Germany. Technology corporation IBM is to release their 4th quarter results on 19 January 2016. (Photo: MATTHIAS BALK, EPA)

1. International Business Machines

  • 2017 patent grants: 9,043
  • 2016 patent grants: 8,090
  • Country: United States
  • Products: Data management, IT services, application development

 

Methodology

To identify the 50 most innovative companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 1,000 companies receiving the most patent grants U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants in 2017, according to data provided by IFI Claims Patent Services. IFI produces this data based on the entity listed as holding the patent, and that entity often is a division or subsidiary of the larger company. In order to arrive at a figure that more closely reflects a company’s total, 24/7 Wall St. combined the grants awarded to a company and its subsidiaries. For more on how this list was generated and what the finding reveal,

is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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