Social media giant Facebook was awarded 989 patents in 2019, putting it higher on the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s list of the Top 300 organizations granted U.S. patents, according to a Tuesday (Jan. 14) report by Bloomberg.
That’s 64 percent more patents than in 2018, according to figures from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Fairview Research’s IFI Patent Claims Services.
In 2014, Facebook was awarded 279. Facebook is number 36 on the list, far below IBM, which was awarded 9,262, and is No. 1 on the list. It did receive more patents than companies like Royal Philips NV and Texas Instruments Inc., however.
The patents illustrate how Facebook is diligently spending on research and development, with the expectation of a return in the future.
Facebook is looking a lot like rivals Apple and Amazon in terms of patent awards, and the company is trying to stay in front of technological trends, especially what it sees as the next cosmic shift in computing — augmented reality (AR).
Most of Facebook’s patents were in fields like data processing and digital transmission, but 169 patents were in the Optical Elements category. That would be related to virtual reality headsets.
Facebook owns VR company Oculus as well as the gaming studio behind the popular VR video game Beat Saber. One of Facebook’s patents is called “Compact head-mounted display for artificial reality.”
Larry Cady, a senior analyst with IFI, said that the patents make sense for where Facebook is trying to go.
“I think it’s safe to say that their priorities in headsets are very serious,” Cady said in the report. “It is a major focus of their R&D.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously admitted that his company was behind the curve when computing switched to more heavy usage of mobile devices in 2010.
Facebook wants to avoid a similar mistake when a switch to AR happens.
Ha Thai, a Facebook spokeswoman, said that Facebook is “investing significantly in AR, VR and home hardware products.”