In 1992, George H.W. Bush was President of the United States, the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, the Cartoon Network was established by Turner Broadcasting, and Prince Charles and Princess Dianna separated. 1992 was also the last year that a company not named IBM (NYSE: IBM) earned the greatest number of U.S. patents.
IBM inventors received a record number of U.S. patents in 2017, again blowing past their own previous record to sail past 9,000 issued patents. The 9,043 U.S. patents issued to IBM in 2017 represents an average of nearly 25 patents a day. These 9,043 U.s. patents were granted to a diverse group of more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different U.S. states and 47 countries.
This marks the 25th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership for IBM. It also marks another mind-boggling milestone. With the 9,043 patents issued to IBM this year the company has now obtained more than 100,000 patents over the last 25 years, bringing IBM’s total of U.S. patents granted to 105,000 from 1993 to 2017.
Over the last 25 years IBM inventors have received patents for such transformative ideas as secure credit card transactions, guiding the visually-impaired using RFID, the world’s fastest supercomputers and earthquake detectors. With more than a quarter-century of innovation under its belt, IBM has continued to work on the most contemporary, relevant problems that exist today. This year alone inventors obtained patents in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Blockchain, Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing technologies.
“For the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO. “Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”
As the importance of cloud technologies continue to grow, in 2017 IBM inventors received more than 1,900 cloud related patents, including a patent for a system that uses unstructured data about world or local events to forecast cloud resource needs. See U.S. Patent No. 9,755,923. The system can monitor data sources – including news feeds, network statistics, weather reports and social networks – to identify where and how cloud resources should be allocated to meet demand.
Another set of IBM innovations helps solve one of artificial intelligence’s current limits: lack of personalization, which can hinder how AI communicates with people. Among the industry-leading 1,400 AI patents IBM inventors were granted in 2017 is a patent for a system that can help AI analyze and mirror a user’s speech patterns to improve communication between AI and humans. See U.S. Patent No. 9,601,104.
IBM inventors also received 1,200 cybersecurity patents, including one for technology that enables AI systems to turn the table on hackers by baiting them into email exchanges and websites that expend their resources and frustrate their attacks. It could substantially reduce the security risks associated with “phishing” emails and other attacks. See U.S. Patent No. 9,560,075.
IBM inventors also patented significant inventions in emerging areas like quantum computing, including a new way for improving a quantum computer’s ability to acquire and retain information – otherwise known as “signal readout fidelity.” See U.S. Patent No. 9,589,236. This can lead to efficiency in the components necessary to build a quantum computing system.
Other patented innovations from IBM inventors in 2017 include:
- A machine learning system designed to shift control between an autonomous vehicle and a human driver as needed, such as in an emergency. See U.S. Patent No. 9,566,986.
- A method that leverages blockchain technology to reduce the number of steps involved in settling transactions between multiple business parties, even those that are not trusted and might otherwise require a third-party clearinghouse to execute. See U.S. Patent No. 9,824,031.
- A technique that automatically elevates the security protection of a mobile device when it determines that device is located far from its owner and is likely under someone else’s control. See U.S. Patent No. 9,762,722.