While the word “abandon” implies neglect, companies abandon patents for a couple of reasons. Sometimes, companies inadvertently abandon a patent because they miss a maintenance fee due date. Other times, companies purposely abandon patents because the patent no longer holds value. Advancements in a particular field, such as technology, can quickly render some patents obsolete.

The following companies abandoned the most patents in 2014:

1. International Business Machine (IBM) abandoned 1,359 patents.
2. Hewlett-Packard abandoned 750 patents.
3. Micron Technology abandoned 718 patents.
4. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha abandoned 625 patents.
5. Toshiba (listed as Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba) abandoned 589 patents.

The top patent classes abandoned for these five companies were as follows:

1. 438 – Semiconductor Device Manufacturing: Process
2. 257 – Active Solid-State Devices (e.g., transistors, solid-state diodes)
3. 347 – Incremental Printing of Symbolic Information
4. 707 – Data Processing: Database and File Management or Data Structures
5. 709 – Electrical Computers and Digital Processing Systems: Multipcomputer Data Transferring

The companies that abandoned the most patents have large patent portfolios and play a huge role in the technology realm. So what do all of these abandoned patents mean? The companies listed are large ones. they have thousands of patents to deal with, which means they could have inadvertently missed maintenance fee deadlines. In such a case, there may be a window of opportunity for another company. However, since these are technology firms, it is likely that many of the patents have become obsolete. The technology industry is extremely aggressive, coming out with new advancements quickly. Therefore, what hits the market can become obsolete just as quickly because these big tech companies continually make improvements. This is why it is often necessary to upgrade laptops, cell phones, and other electronics so frequently.2828