Two Decade Patent Reign for IBM, and a More Polite Watson

According to patent research firm IFI, IBM filed more patents than anyone else for the 20th year in a row.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued 253,155 patents in 2012, an all time high that beats the number of patents handed out in 2011 by a margin of 13 percent.   IBM landed the top spot with 6,478 patents awarded, followed by runner up Samsung, putting Canon K K in the third pace, followed by Sony and Panasonic. The other companies that made it into the top 10 list include Microsoft, Toshiba, Foxconn, GM and LG.

You’re probably seeing a trend here. In 2012  South Korean companies accounted for 12 percent of the over 70,000 patents filed by the top 50 firms on the list, a huge increase from the year prior.  IFI credits this to the explosive growth in the consumer electronics market. The tech industry’s super powers still maintain their edge though – Japan raked in 39 percent of the patents, and U.S. companies came in second with a solid 26 percent.

Big Blue’s resident Jeopardy! champion could probably come up with a creative way of congratulating its creators, at least if they hadn’t stripped it of some of its more colorful character traits.

Two years ago, IBM AI wiz Eric Brown thought it was a good idea to feed the Urban Dictionary into Watson’s systems. The goal was to help the computer gain a better understanding of how people formulate sentences, but the experiment didn’t turn out entirely as expected.

“Case in point: Two years ago, Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. The popular website contains definitions for terms ranging from Internet abbreviations like OMG, short for “Oh, my God,” to slang such as “hot mess.”

As a response to this unintended defiance, the 35-person team in charge of Watson removed the Urban Dictionary database and added a filtering mechanism that will help the machine be a little more polite to its human operators.