IBM scientists and researchers received 9,130 US (United States) patents in 2020, the most of any company, marking 28 consecutive years of IBM patent leadership. IBM led the industry in the number of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, quantum computing, and security-related patents granted.
“The world needs scientific thinking and action more than ever,” said Darío Gil, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “IBM’s sustained commitment to investing in research and development, both in good and in challenging times, has paved the way for new products and new frontiers of information technology that have greatly benefited our clients and society.”
IBM received more than 2,300 AI patents as inventors developed use cases to help businesses scale their use of the technology. IBM is focused on delivering innovations in natural language processing, automation and building trust in AI, and continually infusing new capabilities from IBM Research into the IBM Watson products. In 2020, this included the IBM Watson team announcing the first commercialization of capabilities from Project Debater, a technology that digests a massive amount of text and constructs a well-structured speech on a given topic, and delivers it with clarity and purpose.
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IBM received more than 3,000 patents related to cloud and hybrid cloud technologies. Edge and hybrid cloud offerings are crucial parts of IBM’s product roadmap. In May 2020, they included the launch of the IBM Edge Application Manager, an autonomous management solution to enable AI, analytics, and IoT enterprise workloads to be deployed and remotely managed, delivering real-time analysis and insight at scale. In November 2020, IBM announced the IBM Cloud for Telecommunicationsto help companies unlock the power of edge and 5G in November 2020. The holistic hybrid cloud offering leverages IBM’s innovative encryption capabilities, designed to enable mission-critical workloads to be managed consistently from the network core to the edge, to position telecom providers to extract more value from their data while they drive innovation for their customers.
Quantum computing is a major focus for IBM and this is reflected in IBM’s leadership in quantum computing patents obtained. One patent, for example, simplifies the mapping of quantum molecular simulation on a quantum computer. As a result, researchers will be able to explore simulating chemical reactions on quantum computers to understand how and when the discovery process around new materials and new pharmaceuticals will be revolutionized. IBM was also granted a patent that sets the foundation for investigating more accurate and efficient risk analysis calculations on a quantum computer.
As enterprises work to protect their data, particularly in highly-regulated industries, IBM inventors received more than 1,400 security-related patents. One of the patents is used for fully homomorphic encryption (FHE), an IBM-pioneered method of performing computation on data that remains encrypted while being processed in order to maximize security for data in use. Previously, processing encrypted data required decryption before processing and re-encrypting the results, thus making data more vulnerable while unencrypted. IBM inventors patented a technique that allows encrypted data to be organized so that FHE vector comparison operations can be performed efficiently and maximizes the security of the data. IBM Security launched a service that allows companies to experiment with fully homomorphic encryption in December of 2020.
The culture of innovation at IBM is stronger than ever, thanks to our inventors worldwide who devote themselves to advancing the boundaries of knowledge in their respective fields every single day.”
Patents were awarded to more than 9,000 inventors located in 46 US states and 54 countries. Since 1920, IBM has received more than 150,000 US patents and played a crucial role in innovations ranging from magnetic storage to laser eye surgery.