Technology giant IBM leads the patents race for the 16th year in a row, with 4,186 patents granted in 2008 in the US, followed by Samsung and Canon.
IBM's patents in 2008 nearly tripled that of Hewlett-Packard. It has become the first company to earn more than 4,000 US patents in a single year.
This is the 16th consecutive year that IBM has led the global patents leadership.
IBM plans to increase by 50 per cent the number of technical inventions it publishes annually instead of seeking patent protection. This will make these inventions freely available to others.
IBM, which earns about $1 billion annually from Intellectual Property, owned 3,125 patents in 2007. It now has a total of 40,000 patents.
Also read: Top 15 technology pioneers 2009
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