Thomas J Watson Research Center

IBM Marks More Than a Quarter Century of Patent Leadership with Record Year

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IFI CLAIMS Patent Services today announced that for the 26th year, IBM is the top recipient of U.S. patents – a record 9,100, including more than 3,000 patents related to work in artificial intelligence, cloud and quantum computing.

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IBM inventors received more than 2,000 cloud computing patents in 2018. Here, IBM researchers Priya Nagpurkar and Dan Williams discuss Williams’ 2018 patent related to IBM’s research in container security that could enable organizations to more easily move data and applications securely across cloud and on-premises environments. (Credit: Connie Zhou/Connie Zhou for IBM)

Our work in these areas, and others, began long before there were practical enterprise uses for the technology, and that spirit of research for the sake of discovery is what has propelled us to lead the field in patent grants for more than a quarter of a century.

This year we led the industry with 1,600 AI-related patents, a number of which stemmed from our work around the language and machine learning techniques that power Project Debater. These innovations will help transform how we interact with AI and enhance our ability to use it as a tool to gain more meaningful insights.

We’ve also explored how technology can improve our health and promote safety, patenting methods for smart wearables to communicate with electronic components embedded in prostheses – from hearing aids to prosthetic arms – potentially helping them quickly adapt to better suit the wearer’s needs.

Another significant patent this year was for foundational blockchain technology that encrypts transactions as they are recorded and allows users to share transactions with an encryption key. Different keys can be provided to different user sets depending upon the type of data a user is authorized to access. For example, one key could be provided for access to medical transactions, and another key could be provided for financial transactions.

IBM inventors also patented significant inventions in quantum computing, including a new way of miniaturizing components that improve the performance of quantum computers. This may allow the integration of discrete elements into a single quantum computing chip.

We are all mindful of the impact of climate change on our planet, and of the potential of technology to help mitigate and manage some of its effects. To that end, in 2018 IBM researchers patented a diagnostic tool that could use machine learning and image analysis to help scientists identify a plant’s species, diagnose and recommend a treatment. We’ve also developed an early detection system to identify and monitor potentially disruptive temperature variations, which can affect – among other things – oxygen levels and nutrients for marine life.

It is a privilege to work with such a talented group of inventors, scientists and thinkers, but it’s even more rewarding to see these colleagues recognized for their achievements and contributions to their respective fields. I’m particularly proud to share that IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa was today inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Chieko, the 23rd IBMer and first female IBMer to receive this honor, has been a driving force behind IBM’s work in accessibility, helping the visually impaired better navigate their surroundings. Chieko’s work, coupled with the outstanding innovations from the IBM researchers around the world who contributed to this record patent year, is truly leading the way for the future – helping to make business and society smarter, safer and more sustainable.

SVP, Cloud & Cognitive Software

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