Qualcomm Leads San Diego Patent Filings in Our Top 25 List

Xconomy San Diego — 

Which San Diego firms are the most inventive? When the 2008 year-end patent figures recently became available, we decided to find out. Xconomy is listing the top 25 patent winners in the San Diego region below, based on data provided by IFI Patent Intelligence of Wilmington, DE. Our compilation includes a few surprises.

San Diego-based Qualcomm might reasonably be expected to lead the region in patents issued in 2008—and with its longtime leadership in wireless technology, indeed that was the case. Yet the company that garnered the second-highest number of patents last year is not a major engineering research and development conglomerate like SAIC, but Callaway Golf, the Carlsbad-based maker of high-end golf clubs.

Some also might find it surprising to see a startup company in the top 10, since prosecuting patents is neither cheap nor routine—and startups are typically founded on a sole technology. Yet San Diego’s Fallbrook Technologies ranks No. 8 on our list, with 21 patents issued in 2008, which was a decline from 31 patents awarded to Fallbrook in 2007. The venture-backed startup has more than 300 patents issued or pending for its revolutionary transmission design.

In preparing the data, IFI analyzed 2008 utility patents assigned to companies by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. IBM continued to top the national list in 2008, with 4,186 patents issued, and U.S. companies accounted for 49 percent of all the patents granted. Japan was second, accounting for 23 percent of the total and Germany was third, with 6 percent.

In reporting its results, IFI says interest in protecting intellectual property is on an upswing, both in the United States and abroad. In the U.S., the patent office issued a total of 157,774 utility patents in 2008, up slightly from 2007. And that seems borne out by our San Diego list, at least for this year’s top 25, which collectively received slightly more patents than last year. Finally, IFI cautions that its tallies—and the rankings—are based only on the patents issued to companies’ operations in the San Diego region. So, for example, patents awarded to SAIC business units in Virginia would not be included in the rankings for San Diego.

Here’s the top 25 list:

Rank      Company   — Patents ’08   —  Patents ’07

1.    Qualcomm   (Wireless)     —    283    —    275
2.    Callaway Golf    (Sporting Goods) — 64 —57
3.    SAIC    (IT, Contractor, R&D)    —  41  —  32
4.    Kyocera Wireless    (Wireless)   — 38  —  43
5.    Cymer    (Laser, Semiconductors)  — 34 — 32
6.    AMCC    (Semiconductors)        —    22  —  32
Isis Pharmaceuticals    (Biotech)   —  22  — 31
8.    Fallbrook Technologies    (Automotive)  — 21 — 31
9.    Gen-Probe    (Biotech)  — 19 —  14
10.  Dot Hill Systems    (Data Storage) — 18   — 3
11.  Takeda San Diego  [previously Syrrx]   (Biotech) — 15 — 13
12. Maxwell Technologies   (Energy Storage) — 14  — 10
13. Qualcomm MEMS   (Communications) — 13 —  4
Life Technologies  [previously Invitrogen]   (Biotech) — 13 — 29
Pulse-Link    (Semiconductors)  — 13  —  5
16. General Atomics    (Contractor, R&D)  — 12  — 14
Taylor Made Golf    (Sporting Goods)  — 12  —  19
18. Senomyx    (Biotech)  — 11  — 11
19. ViaSat    (Communications)  — 10 — 7
Biosite Diagnostics    (Biotech)  — 10 — 2
Signal Pharmaceuticals    (Biotech) — 10 — 7
Verenium  [previously Diversa]    (Biotech) — 10 — 7
23. Luxtera    (Biotech)  — 8 — 20
Cardinal Health    (Medical Equipment)  — 8 — 14
Cubic Corp  (Defense, Transportation)  — 8  —  5
Trex Enterprises  (Contractor, R&D)  — 8 — 7