years of patent leadership

Explore patenting at IBM

Innovation that matters

IBM inventors received a record 9,100 patents in 2018, marking the company’s 26th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership and crossing the 110,000-patent milestone. Nearly half of the patents granted to IBM in 2018 are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing.

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Advancing key technologies

ibm cloud patents


IBM inventors received more than 2,000 cloud computing patents in 2018, including a patent on a specialized monitor for unikernel-based virtual machines that takes a lightweight approach to improving isolation and security between a cloud application and its host, while also reducing provisioning times and improving performance. The approach is related to IBM’s research in container security and could enable organizations to more easily move data and applications securely across cloud and on-premises environments.

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ibm ai patents

Artificial Intelligence

Project Debater is a first-of-a-kind AI system from IBM Research that can debate humans on complex topics. IBM inventors patented an approach to use machine learning to identify evidence, such as relevant text segments in unstructured text data, which supports or opposes a claim or topic under consideration. This could help provide advancements in how machines and humans interact in conversation.

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ibm cloud patents


IBM inventors continue to break ground in the development of blockchain and its rapid pace of global adoption. IBM was granted a patent on an approach for encrypting data stored in a blockchain, where transactions are encrypted using an encryption key. IBM clients can put data on a blockchain that they would like to share with other blockchain participants. However, instead of storing the data openly for any of the blockchain participants to see, clients can encrypt their data beforehand and only other clients that have been given a decryption key can read the data from the blockchain.

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ibm cloud patents


"Phishing" occurs when a person or computer system tries to obtain sensitive information from unknowing victims. Most recently, phishers have turned to voice phishing, or "vishing," in which unsuspecting victims are called directly and “vishers” use a voice over IP (VoIP) system to mask their identity. IBM patented an AI system that could, with permission from the primary user, analyze conversation patterns between two parties in order to identify attempts by one of the parties to deceive the other. The system could send an alert message in real-time to warn a potential vishing victim, and help company IT experts better prevent and manage computer and mobile security threats.

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ibm cloud patents

Quantum Computing

Quantum computers could one day provide breakthroughs in many disciplines, including materials and drug discovery, the optimization of complex systems, and artificial intelligence. IBM researchers patented significant inventions in quantum computing, including a new way of miniaturizing components to improve the performance of quantum computers.


IBM's 2018 patents by the numbers


patents granted in 2018


IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers granted patents


countries represented by teams granted patents


AI patents


cloud computing patents


cybersecurity patents

IBM patents through the years

This year’s milestone builds on more than 110,000 U.S. patents granted to IBM from 1993 to 2018. 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


Protecting digital images with watermarking

Putting a digital "watermark" on an image so that it is combined with the image and can clearly be seen by someone viewing the image helps to discourages unauthorized use and copying

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Encrypting data with keys that can be recovered

Keys that are used to securely encrypt data can be created while still allowing recovery of the keys by a key recovery agent

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Allowing computers to perform tasks when idle

When an idle computer has processing cycles and communication bandwidth available, other computers can send tasks to the idle computer for completion

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Helping to keep drivers from falling asleep

Carrying on a conversation with a driver on various topics helps to determine if the driver is alert. The driver could be warned or the topic of conversation could be changed if the driver is about to fall asleep

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Securing your credit card transactions

Using a microprocessor imbedded in a credit card to generate a unique security code for each transaction helps to keep your data away from hackers

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Guiding the visually-impaired using RFID

Providing auditory and tactile information about obstacles and hazards to those who cannot clearly see them helps to keep everyone safe

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The world’s fastest supercomputers

Using System-On-a-Chip technology in a parallel formation allows computers to be built that can work on the world’s toughest problems

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Earthquake detectors

Collecting and analyzing seismic data detects earthquakes, and allows future earthquakes and tsunamis to be predicted

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