Milestones and markers are important. They give us a chance to reflect and to celebrate, and they inspire us with what’s next. I’m very pleased to share that Cisco has just been granted its 10,000th U.S. patent.  And worldwide we’ve surpassed 13,000 patents awarded to Cisco innovators.


Our Journey

By the measure of patents, Cisco’s journey started in February 1988, when the company’s first patent was filed. To put that time in context, that was the year President Ronald Reagan gave his last State of the Union address in his second term, U.S. sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner (aka Flo-Jo) set a still-standing women’s world record (21.34 seconds) in the 200-meter dash at the 24th Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, and also the year when the Morris worm was distributed via the Internet, initially written to gauge the size of the Internet.

Cisco’s first U.S. patent—no. 5,088,032—was issued in 1992, for the Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (IGRP), an innovative protocol that improved efficiency in routing communications among computer networks, a foundational capability for the emergence of the Internet – the same year people were just beginning to hear about something called the World Wide Web.

Many of our patented innovations over the following years helped support the exponential growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web, from our Network Switching System (no. 5,274,631) to technology for Local Area Networks (LANs) (no. 5,280,500) to our multiplexing breakthroughs, which enabled multiple data streams to be carried over a single line.

It’s Not the Number, But the Customer Impact

At Cisco, we’ve always prided ourselves on anticipating and leading market transitions to benefit our customers. That’s why we measure the significance of our patent portfolio not by the numbers, but by customer impact and market leadership. For example, U.S. patent no. 5,883,893 for voice packetization, helped enable customers to benefit from the efficiencies of converged networks for voice/video/data traffic. Our patents for network address translation security, security across multiple network nodes, and data encryption (no. 5,793,763, no. 7,203,871, no. 6,920,562) were instrumental for our ability to provide customers with end-to-end security across their networks. And patents for VLAN architectures (no. 6,035,105, no. 7,965,653) and computing local repair paths (no. 8,068,411) helped pave the way for the agile, flexible and reliable infrastructure required for Cisco and our customers to lead in several significant technology and market transitions, from mobility and Big Data to the emerging Internet of Everything.

Fast-forward to today and our 10,000th U.S. patent (no. 8,478,859), which enables a simple, accurate way to indicate presence so that end users can determine the best way to communicate with others. This is another proof point that speaks to Cisco’s future vision for the Internet of Everything.

Each and every Cisco patent is a valuable and a unique technical contribution in its own right and the portfolio includes important building blocks of our innovative products and services, from our core routing and switching products to TelePresence, our Unified Computing System, the Catalyst Switch 6500 Series, WebEx, to name just a few examples.

Innovation Starts With Inventors

10,000 patents are one thing. Tens of thousands of incredible innovators are yet another entirely. Today we recognize the 10,000th U.S. patent.  But I want to take this milestone as an opportunity to applaud all of our patent inventors at Cisco, and our employees around the world who are working hard on our next round of innovations!

*These patent descriptions are for public consumption rather than technical or legal use. 


Pankaj Patel

Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer