years of patent leadership

Explore patenting at IBM

Innovation that matters

IBM inventors received a record 9,043 patents in 2017, marking the company’s 25th consecutive year of U.S. patent leadership and crossing the 100,000-patent milestone. Nearly half of the patents granted to IBM in 2017 are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing.

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Advancing key technologies

ibm cloud patents


As more and more enterprises conduct business on the cloud, IBM inventors received in 2017 more than 1,900 cloud patents, including a patent for a system that uses unstructured data about world or local events to forecast cloud resource needs. 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.

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ibm cloud patents

Artificial intelligence

One of artificial intelligence’s current limits is 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.

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ibm cloud patents


Blockchain, a distributed ledger technology that can be permissioned to multiple parties, is radically transforming how trusted transactions are conducted digitally. IBM inventors patented 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.

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ibm cloud patents


IBM inventors received 1,200 cybersecurity patents in 2017, 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.

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ibm cloud patents

Quantum computing

IBM inventors patent 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.” This can lead to efficiency in the components necessary to build a quantum computing system.

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IBM's 2017 patents by the numbers


patents granted in 2017


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 105,000 U.S. patents granted to IBM from 1993 to 2017. 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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