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Austin operations help push IBM into lead in patent race

IBM Corp. again led the technology world in new U.S. patents last year, thanks in part to work done at its Austin facilities.

IBM received a record 6,809 patents in 2013, ahead of Samsung Electronics Co, which received 4,676.

It was the 21st consecutive year that IBM received more patents than any other company. The patents, according to IBM, represent a range of inventions in strategic areas such as cloud computing, IBM’s Watson supercomputer and data analytics.

“We take pride in being recognized as the U.S. patent leader, but patents are only one gauge of innovation. Equally significant is the impact that our patented inventions have when they are used to enable solutions that help clients and societies solve problems,” said Bernie Meyerson, IBM fellow and vice president of innovation.

The named inventors for its patents included more than 8,000 IBM inventors residing in 41 countries.

Of that total, about 1,030 patents were issued to IBM employees in Austin, the second most for any IBM site after Yorktown Heights, N.Y., site of the firm’s largest research lab.

Austin has long been a hub for innovation at IBM, said Ravi Arimilli, an IBM fellow and one of the most prolific inventors in the world.

“If you look at the history for the last 20 years — I got here in the mid-’80s — and from that point forward, the Austin site has always been the birthplace of a lot of new technologies,” Arimilli said. “If you look today at the Austin site, we have a tremendous amount of under-the-hood technologies that are occurring here.”

Arimilli also credited IBM’s culture of innovation for the record patent total.

Arimilli himself received a patent last year for his work with popcount technology – which uses algorithms to pare down the number of traditional instructions a system has to run through to solve a problem.

“The volume of data is just exploding,” he said. “And the ability to mine it in elegant ways … (is) really going to be, over time more, and more transformative.”

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