(CNET) IBM secured 9,130 US patents in 2020, more than any other company as measured by an annual ranking, and this year quantum computing showed up as part of Big Blue’s research effort. The company wouldn’t disclose how many of the patents were related to quantum computing — certainly fewer than the 2,300 it received for artificial intelligence work and 3,000 for cloud computing — but it’s clear the company sees them as key to the future of computing.
“A lot of the work we do in R&D really is not just about the number of patents, but a way of thinking,” Jerry Chow, director of quantum hardware system development, said in an exclusive interview. “New ideas come out of it.”
Industrywide, quantum computing is a top research priority, with dozens of companies investing millions of dollars even though most don’t expect a payoff for years. The US government is bolstering that effort with a massive multilab research effort. It’s even become a headline event at this year’s CES, a conference that more typically focuses on new TVs, laptops and other consumer products.