IBM collects patents nearly as fast as the file clerk at the U.S. Patent and Trademark office can process them. In fact, the USPTO granted Big Blue an all-time high of 5,896 new U.S. patents in 2010, positioning IBM as the No. 1 patent assignee for the 18th consecutive year. In second place is Samsung, which added 4,551 patents to its portfolio last year. Now these two busy bodies will be able to license each other's patent portfolios after coming to undisclosed terms on a new patent cross-license agreement.
"This licensing agreement will help both companies expedite innovation and achieve business growth by providing each company access to the other's patents for basic technologies," said Dr. Seungho Ahn , Executive Vice President and Head of the IP Center, Samsung Electronics. "We also hope the agreement will open new opportunities for wider collaboration between two of the leading innovators in the technology industry."
It's hard to nail down which company is the bigger winner here, and ultimately it could be the consumer. Samsung's Galaxy line of tablets and smartphones are some of the hottest Android devices on the market, and with access to IBM's patent portfolio, next-generation products could sport some nifty upgrades.