That’s according to the latest data from IBM after the tech giant succeeded in topping the US patent list for the 25th consecutive year.

In 2017, about 9,043 new patents in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, blockchain, cybersecurity and quantum computing were granted to more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different countries and 47 different US states.

Globally, IBM inventors also received 1,200 cybersecurity patents, 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 cyberattacks.

Heads in the cloud, and for good reason

As more and more enterprises conduct business on the cloud, IBM inventors received more than 1,900 cloud patents in 2017.

This includes 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.

Among the industry-leading 1,400 AI patents IBM inventors were granted in 2017 is a patent for a system that can help AI analyse and mirror a user’s speech patterns to improve communication between AI and humans.

IBM inventors also patented significant inventions in emerging areas such as 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.

Other patented innovations from IBM inventors last year include a machine-learning system designed to shift control between an autonomous vehicle and a human driver as needed, such as in an emergency. Another one is 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.

“For the past 25 years, IBM’s patent leadership has changed the way the world works with advancements critical to the modern era of computing,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chair, president and CEO.

“Today, nearly half of our patents are pioneering advancements in AI, cloud computing, cybersecurity, blockchain and quantum computing – and all are aimed at helping our clients create smarter businesses.”

John Kennedy

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