In the business world, some of the most successful companies own a large amount of patents.These patents provide great value. Check out our article titled “Five Ways Patents Provide Value” to learn more on patent value. For this article, we’ve highlighted some of the patent leaders. These leaders aggressively apply for and buy patents to protect their inventions and ward off competitors.

For the first four months of 2014, the following companies represented the top ten that have been awarded the most patents.

1. IBM – 2,247
2. Canon – 1,210
3. Microsoft – 988
4. Sony – 948
5. Panasonic – 730
7. Qualcomm – 703
8. Google – 681
9. Toshiba – 678
10. LG – 673

As the list indicates, technology companies are the most aggressive when it comes to the patent landscape. Patents are so important to the technology industry that Apple had to change its game plan. There was a time when Apple relied simply on its products without the added protection of patents. While Apple did not make the top ten in patent grants for the first four months of this year, it follows close behind at number 11 with 632 patent grants. That alone is a telling aspect since it was only a few years ago that Apple didn’t have many patents to brag about at all. In the past few years, Apple has built its patent portfolio by acquiring patents from other companies and has stepped up its game by applying for patents as evident by this research. In fact, Apple ranked seventh in the first four months for the most patent applications. Therefore, it is not inconceivable that Apple will rank in the top ten by the end of the year.

As technology continues to advance, it is likely that these technology companies will remain top players in the patent arena for years to come. Especially since these same companies represent the companies with the most patent applications so far this year.