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If there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the patent wars, it would have to be IBM.

Today, Big Blue said it topped the list of patent recipients in 2014 with a total of 7,534 patents, 34 percent more than second-place Samsung, which had 4,952, according to data from IFI Claims Patent Services.

It marked the 22nd consecutive year that IBM took first place. Among the most common industries involved are analytics, security, cloud computing, mobile, and social.

The numbers are impressive — IBM averaged more than 20 patents a day in 2014, with more than 8,500 scientists being named on at least one. No company had ever before earned more than 7,000 patents in a single year, IBM said.


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The results are one of the most tangible rewards for IBM’s massive investment in research and development. Over the past five years, the company has spent an average of $6.18 billion a year on R&D. Yet that number doesn’t place it in the top ten biggest spenders, suggesting that IBM is getting more bang — at least as measured by patents granted — for its buck than Volkswagen, Samsung, Intel, Microsoft, and the others at the top of that list.

IBM said its most important innovations of 2014 included patents for assessing social risk due to exposure from linked contacts, natural-language processing, identifying if an application is malicious, enabling service virtualization in a cloud, and coordinating data sharing among applications in mobile devices.

The company announced a number of impressive innovations last year, including a cognitive computer designed to think like the human brain, an initiative said to diagnose skin cancer more accurately than was previously possible, and a Guinness world record for the smallest magazine cover in history.

IBM’s patents have paid handsome rewards. In the past, it has said, IBM has earned more than $1 billion a year in licensing fees, and its broad patent portfolio insulates it to some extent from being sued by competitors.

Rounding out the top ten patent recipients for 2014 were Canon, at 4,055; Sony, with 3,224; Microsoft, with 2,829; Toshiba, which earned 2,608; Qualcomm, at 2,590; Google, with 2,566; LG, with 2,122; and Panasonic, at 2,095.

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