IBM has received a record 6 478 patents in 2012 for inventions that will enable fundamental advancements across key domains including analytics, big data, cyber-security, cloud, mobile, social networking and software defined environments, as well as industry solutions for retail, banking, healthcare and transportation.
These patented inventions also will advance a major shift in computing, known as the era of cognitive systems.
This is the 20th consecutive year that IBM has topped the annual list of US patent recipients.
“We are proud of this new benchmark in technological and scientific creativity, which grows out of IBM’s century-long commitment to research and development,” says Ginni Rometty, chairman and CEO, IBM.
“Most concretely, our 2012 patent record and the two decades of leadership it extends are a testament to thousands of brilliant IBM inventors — the living embodiments of our devotion to innovation that matters, for our clients, for our company and for the world.”
IBM’s record-setting 2012 patent tally was made possible by more than 8 000 IBM inventors residing in 46 different US states and 35 countries. IBM inventors residing outside the US contributed to nearly 30% of the company’s 2012 US patent output.
From 1993 to 2012, IBM inventors have received nearly 67 000 US patents. The company’s 2012 patent count exceeded the combined totals of Accenture, Amazon, Apple, EMC, HP, Intel, Oracle/SUN and Symantec.
The top 10 list of 2012 US patent recipients includes: IBM – 6 478; Samsung – 5 081; Canon – 3 174; Sony – 3 032; Panasonic – 2 769; Microsoft – 2 613; Toshiba – 2 447; Hon Hai – 2 013; General Electric – 1 652; and LG Electronics – 1 624.
IBM’s record 2012 patent output featured inventions that are reshaping how companies are applying technology in today’s world of a Smarter Planet and those that are laying the groundwork for the new era of cognitive systems:
* US Patent #8 275 803 – system and method for providing answers to questions. This patented invention was implemented in the IBM Watson system and describes a technique that enables a computer to take a question expressed in natural language, understand it in detail, and deliver a precise answer to the question.
* US Patent #8 250 010 – electronic learning synapse with spike-timing dependent plasticity using unipolar memory-switching elements.
This patent relates to algorithms and circuits for efficiently mimicking the learning function of a brain’s synapses and lays the foundation for a non-von Neumann computer architecture.
IBM is working on a cognitive computing project called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE), which aims to emulate the brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition while consuming orders of magnitude less power and volume without being programmed.
* US Patent #8 185 480 – system and method for optimising pattern recognition of non-gaussian parameters. This patent describes a technique for dealing with and recognising patterns in fast growing, large data sets of complex information, such as  understanding of spoken phrases or processing satellite data to predict locations of traffic jams.
* US Patent #8 200 501 – methods, systems and computer program products for synthesising medical procedure information in healthcare databases. This invention describes a technique that enables medical professionals to more efficiently access and analyse medical data and records stored in multiple disparate data sources, improving their ability to research, diagnose and treat medical conditions.
* US Patents #8 291 378 – simplified deployment modeling; and #8 332 873 – dynamic application instance placement in data centre environments.
These patented inventions describe a Software Defined Environment composed of a modeling platform to define application components with their requirements and characteristics, and an intelligent orchestration system to dynamically deploy, update and manage workloads.
The inventions enable the IBM PureSystems family of products to use repeatable patterns for faster deployment and optimised workload lifecycle management.
* US Patent #8 341 441 – reducing energy consumption in a cloud computing environment. This patented invention describes a technique that enables more efficient and effective use of cloud computing resources, thereby reducing and minimising energy consumption.
* US Patent #8 247 261 – thin substrate fabrication using stress-induced substrate spalling. This patent describes a low-cost method for manufacturing a new class of flexible semiconductor materials that will enable ultra-thin, lightweight and flexible products and can be applied to a wide range of technologies such as biomedical, security, wearable computing and solid-state lighting.
* US Patent #8 302 173 – providing a user device with a set of access codes.
This invention provides a method to validate and retrieve one or several security codes – valid for only a very short period of time to enhance system security –  via a mobile network (SMS, for example) and a separately encrypted channel from a secure server, for example, to complete a secure transaction or perform secure login operations via a mobile phone.