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IBM Leads List of Mobile Patents for 2014, Reclaiming Top Spot From Samsung

And one in four U.S. patents issued last year was mobile-related.

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The list of top mobile-patent recipients for 2014 has a lot of a familiar names on it, but there were a couple surprises.

First off, IBM took back the overall lead in new patents granted, surpassing Samsung, which finished the year at No. 2. Qualcomm had its best showing to date, at No. 3, according to a new report from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

The top 10 included a lot of the big names in mobile, including Microsoft, LG, Google and Ericsson. But it also included some companies struggling in mobile, such as BlackBerry and Samsung.

Perhaps the biggest news is just how many mobile-related patents are being issued. In the U.S., one in four patents granted were related to mobile. A decade ago, that number was less than 10 percent.

Mobile patents have been on the rise for several years now.

In Europe, mobile patents were a less significant presence, accounting for one in 10 patents granted last year. Indeed, mobile patent grants in Europe were actually down 4 percent from the prior year, compared to a 17 percent increase in the U.S.

“Over time, many of the storied European brands like Nokia, Philips and others have disappeared or lost their influence in the changed ecosystem,” Sharma said in the report. “Moreover, U.S. has grown to become the mecca of mobile innovation and revenue generation. While the U.S. market represents only 5 percent of the global subscription base, 22 percent of the global data revenue is generated in the U.S.”

Chinese companies, meanwhile, are also making a push, with China the No. 3 country behind the U.S. and Japan in terms of patent grants. ZTE and Huawei were among the big patent recipients, but other companies such as MediaTek and Xiaomi have recently stepped up their patent efforts.

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