Breaking onto the list of the top 50 companies with approved patents in a year for the first time ever, Apple was awarded 563 patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its inventions in 2010, double the 289 approvals from 2009. AppleInsider reports that IFI Claims Patent Services has listed Apple as No. 46 on the list for the year, with most of its approvals coming from patent applications which were filed five or six years ago.
While 563 patents is nothing to sneeze at, Apple would still need another 5,334 patent awards to surpass the 2010 first place finisher, IBM. Microsoft, Apple's biggest competitor in the OS market, came in third place with 3,094 patent approvals.
While the end of 2010 saw Apple awarded several patents for different multi-touch devices, just last week Apple was granted a storm of new patents with approvals for multi-touch gestures on electronic documents, an advanced set-top box, a design patent for the Cinema Display, two iChat patents, and for something called "solidifying amorphous alloy" -- i.e., liquid metal. If the current rate of approvals keeps up at that pace, Apple should have no problem ranking even higher on next year's IFI Claims Patent Services list.