Google Goes From Critic to Inner Circle of Patent System

Google Inc. (GOOG), the Internet company that has been a critic of abusive patent litigation, has entered the inner circle of top U.S. patent recipients as it expands into wearable computers, health care and driverless cars.

Google received 2,190 patents last year, ranking it for the first time in the top 10 of a list compiled by the Intellectual Property Owners Association. The only other U.S. companies that received more patents were No. 1 International Business Machines Corp., and Microsoft Corp., the report released today shows.

Google’s top mobile phone rival Apple Inc. was No. 15.

The latest tally was the first year patents from Motorola Mobility, which Google bought in 2012, were included in the annual listing. The bulk of the patents though come from the Mountain View, California-based company’s own research in Internet-search and other ventures including Google Glass, self-driving cars and robots that it’s trying to commercialize.

“We’re proud of the innovation by our engineers that has let us file a growing number of high-quality patents,” said Allen Lo, Google’s deputy general counsel for patents.

Google has led some of the lobbying in Washington to curb patent litigation, saying it and other technology companies are too often targeted by patent owners looking for a big payday on inventions of dubious validity. The company has also filed court documents supporting cases to make it easier for a target of patent-infringement to fend off lawsuits or get reimbursed for legal fees when they win cases.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A pair of glasses outfitted with Google Glass on April 15, 2014. Close

A pair of glasses outfitted with Google Glass on April 15, 2014.

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Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

A pair of glasses outfitted with Google Glass on April 15, 2014.

Samsung, GE

Other than Google, membership in the top 10 list remained the same from last year, led by IBM, with Samsung Electronics Co. at No. 2. General Electric Co. (GE), which was 10th on the list last year, dropped to No. 12 even as it had a 2.3 percent increase in the number of patents it received.

The list tends to skew toward technology, auto and medical device companies, which make products that are often an amalgam of dozens or even hundreds of different inventions. Drugmakers, by contrast, rely on just a few patents to protect blockbuster medications.

The total number of patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rose 9.7 percent to 277,835, according to IPO. To make the top 300 list, an organization had to receive at least 95 patents.

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Romaine Bostick at rbostick@bloomberg.net Elizabeth Wasserman

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