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The Companies That Apply for the Most Patents and Trademarks (Infographic) Legal startup SmartUp generated this infographic summarizing who is getting patents, where and how long it is taking the application process to complete.

By Catherine Clifford

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. That may be true in fashion, but if you are an inventor, imitation can be bad for business.

That's why getting a patent on your invention or copyright on your word, phrase or symbol is so important.

Related: Protect Your Business Name: Tips on How to Secure a Trademark (Infographic)

As of Dec. 1, Big Blue had been issued almost 7,000 patents in 2014. After IBM, the company with the second highest number of patents issued was Korean-headquartered technology giant Samsung, with more than 5,000 patents filed. Canon, Sony and Microsoft round out the top five, according to the infographic generated with United States Patent Office data by SmartUp, a legal startup that is building an online platform connecting attorneys and clients.

While getting your idea legally protected is a smart idea, getting a patent is no speedy task. In fact, it took more than two years, on average, for a patent application to be completed. In the software industry, it took even longer. To get a patent issued in the software industry, it took almost 32 months. That's almost three years.

For more stats on the patent industry, have a look at the infographic, embedded below.

Click to Enlarge

Patents (Infographic)

Related: Before Spending Money on Your Great Idea Be Sure It Isn't Invented Already

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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