IBM reports earnings this afternoon, and once again the company’s profits and revenue are expected to decline from the previous year’s quarter. Unless IBM pulls a surprise out of its hat, this will be the 15th straight quarter where revenue dropped from a year ago. The company is facing pressure on numerous fronts, including companies choosing to outsource their computing needs to the cloud. IBM is increasing its focus on the cloud, but Amazon and Microsoft had a head start, and IBM is still catching up.
But there’s one place where IBM is still the undisputed leader: Patents. In 2015, the company earned 7,355 new U.S. patents, way ahead of number-two Samsung. Many of the patents were concentrated in the areas of artificial intelligence — including a patent on computers recognising emotions — and cloud computing. This is the 23rd year in a row that IBM has led in patents.