HANOVER, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 28:  A woman walks past the IBM logo at the CeBIT technology trade fair the day before the fair's official opening on February 28, 2011 in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT 2011 will be open to the public from March 1-5.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Tech Companies Clamor for Cloud Patents

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Some of the biggest names in cloud computing are unsurprisingly the companies who had the most patent filings in 2015. With 7,355 patents last year, IBM received the most US patents recipients for the year – a title it has held for 23 consecutive years.

Rounding out the list are Samsung, Canon, Qualcomm, Google, Toshiba, Sony, LG, Intel and Microsoft.

More than 2,000 patents of IBM’s patents relate to the cloud and cognitive computing of which it is a pioneer with its Watson services. Some of these patents included helping machines understand emotion for more natural conversation, and detect when they’re either dealing with a human or a machine to root out online fraud.

On the cloud side, IBM also has patents for minimizing network latency between resources, and between end users and resources by determining the shortest network routes between them, and for drawing on other cloud service resources to manage intensive workloads.

“IBM’s investments in R&D continue to shape the future of computing through cognitive computing and the cloud platform that will help our clients drive transformation across multiple industries,” IBM president and CEO Ginni Rometty said in a statement. “IBM’s patent leadership demonstrates our unparalleled commitment to the fundamental R&D necessary to drive progress in business and society.”

By the middle of 2015, IBM had more than 400 new cloud patents for the year addressing a number of issues such as application deployment speed, cloud data center security, and cloud management, storage, and maintenance. This included patents for high availability for cloud servers using virtual machine snapshots, and by monitoring the availability of VMs in a networked computing environment.

It also had developed methods for secure cloud deployments involving sensitive data, providing granular access control for cloud data, and managing and deploying unified cloud computing infrastructure across physical and virtual environments.

But companies other than IBM were granted interesting patents in 2015. Samsung was published its patent for managing cloud content delivered through mobile devices. Qualcomm had patents relating to cloud-enhanced web browsing, and Internet of Things devices being able to find cloud services.

It’s perhaps most striking that Amazon Web Services, which currently has the largest percentage of the cloud market, isn’t among the top patent filers.

But it might come down to business model.

As Charles Babcock noted in an InformationWeek article, IBM seeks to monetize its R&D investments that result in around $500 million to $2 billion per year in IP revenues from a combination of licensing fees and patent sales. This should be proof that the research going into these patents is being put to use, and that there are healthy incentives in come up with new cloud technologies. There are plenty of patented technologies to pay for.

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About the Author

David Hamilton is a technology journalist and Contributing Editor of the WHIR. Based in Toronto, David has covered the hosting industry internationally for the WHIR with particular attention to innovative hosting solutions and the issues facing the industry. He has written for the National Post and other news outlets, and is a graduate of Queen’s University and the Humber College School of Media Studies.

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