As IBM's patent activity heads towards being a $2bn business, the company has been awarded more than 3000 patents in a year for the first time.
The company, which spent $5.1bn on research and development last year, generated $1.7bn in licensing royalties from its total property portfolio, a company spokesman said.
Big Blue received 3,411 patents in 2001, topping the next closest company, NEC, by 75 per cent, a margin of over 1,450.
Of the patents that IBM received, more than 1,500 were for infrastructure technologies such as software, servers and storage systems. Another 1,200 were for component technologies such as microelectronics and storage devices.
Nick Donofrio, IBM's senior vice president of technology and manufacturing, explained that one of the biggest myths of 2001 was that innovation was dying along with the dotcom bust.
"The fact is that innovation is thriving in the research and development labs of corporate America and companies around the world, as this year's patent results confirm," he said.
Patent activity has steadily increased in recent years. The number granted in the US went up by 60 per cent over the last five years, according to the Patent Office.
IBM's number surpassed the combined total of patents awarded to 12 of the largest US IT companies, including Hewlett Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Compaq, Dell, Apple, EMC, Oracle, EDS, Accenture and AOL.
Yet despite IBM's dominance, Asian companies lead the patent business, with NEC, Canon Kabushiki Kaisha, Samsung Electronics, Matsushita Electrical, Sony, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Denki Kabushiki Kaisha, and Fujitsu, ranking as eight of the top 10 patent holders.
The only other company in the top 10 is Micron Technology, which ranked fourth with 1,643 patents.
IBM is also one of the largest non-European patent holders in Europe and one of the largest non-Japanese patent holders in Japan, according to the company.
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