Toyota Motor Corp. received more patents than any other automaker from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
The automaker was granted 1,491 U.S. patents in 2012, a 31 percent rise from 2011, according to the association's annual list of top 300 U.S. patent recipients. Toyota ranked No. 13 overall.
Among automakers, General Motors ranked No. 2 with 1,374 patents, a 26 percent increase, and Honda Motor Co. was third with 1,074, a 12 percent rise.
"Different organizations measure patent and innovation leadership differently," a GM spokesman wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News. "While many recognize GM as the industry innovation leader, the only measure that matters to us is what is a relevant application to the vehicle and benefits our customers."
Toyota's patents in 2012 included items such as improvements for car communication systems and materials to help vehicles repel insect splatter.
"Since the days of Toyota's founding, innovation has been a cornerstone of Toyota's success," Kristen Tabar, vice president of electrical systems engineering at the Toyota Technical Center, said in a statement. "We're driven to listen to our customers and develop new ways to improve their experience."
Two Toyota employees received their 20th patents in 2012 -- Minjuan Zhang, manager of Toyota Research Institute North America, and Charan Lota, manager of electronic systems at the Toyota Technical Center.
"You can tell a lot about a company by the new ideas they generate," Lota said in a statement. "And, what these patents show about Toyota is that we are never going to stop trying to make better cars."
The Toyota Technical Center, a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, has facilities in Ann Arbor, Saline, Livonia and Plymouth, Mich., plus operations in California and Arizona.