A recent exploration of the U.S. Patent Officeâ€™s searchable database unearths a wide range of patents held by big-name tech chiefs. Microsoftâ€™s Steve Ballmer has one. Oracleâ€™s Larry Ellison has four, Googleâ€™s Larry Page has six, and Facebookâ€™s Mark Zuckerberg has nine. The late Steve Jobs won more than 300 patents during his lifetime â€” and more are still being granted after the Apple founderâ€™s death.
Why are tech CEOs so inventive? Tarek Fahmi, a long-time Silicon Valley patent attorney, sees two key factors at play. First, he explains, many current bosses of big tech companies have been there since the earliest days, when they were part of the founding team. The first few months of a companyâ€™s existence, he points out, are when a new enterprise needs to stake out its unique edge â€” if any â€” versus existing companies. Thatâ€™s when a lot of patents are likely to be filed.
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