Quantum computing research helps IBM win top spot in patent race

IBM secured 9,130 US patents in 2020, more than any other company as measured by an annual ranking, and this year quantum computing showed up as part of Big Blue's research effort. The company wouldn't disclose how many of the patents were related to quantum computing -- certainly fewer than the 2,300 it received for artificial intelligence work and 3,000 for cloud computing -- but it's clear the company sees them as key to the future of computing.

The IFI Claims patent monitoring service compiles the list annually, and IBM is a fixture at the top. The IBM Research division, with labs around the globe, has for decades invested in projects that are far away from commercialization. Even though the work doesn't always pay dividends, it's produced Nobel prizes and led to entire industries like hard drives, computer memory and database software.


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