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IBM Tops 2007 Patent Winners List

For the 15th year, IBM has the most, though it and other companies received fewer patents last year than previously, as a backlog of applications pile up.

For the 15th year in a row, IBM has topped the list in a ranking of the world's top U.S. patent winners, according to patent rankings released Monday by analysis firm IFI Patent Intelligence.

IFI Patent Intelligence analyzed U.S. Patent and Trademark Office activity and found that the office issued 157,284 patents last year, down 9.5% from the previous year's record numbers. The USPTO reported a backlog of more than 1.2 million patents pending last year. The USPTO has acknowledged the backlog and is making changes in an attempt to reduce it.

Still, IBM's patent count is nothing to sneeze at. In 2007, the company gained 3,148 patents, which was 500 less than the company obtained in 2006, IFI Patent Intelligence said. Samsung ranked second with 2,725 patents, and Canon ranked third with 1,987. Matsushita Electric Industrial and Intel rounded out the top five, with 1,941 patents and 1,865, respectively.

IFI Patent Intelligence found that 85% of the top 35 patent winners received fewer grants last year compared to the previous year, but Samsung was up 11% and Microsoft earned 12% more patents, ranking sixth with 1,637.

"While 2007 didn't bring any marked improvements in terms of reducing America's backlog of patents pending, it wasn't far off the annual average of the past seven years either," Darlene Slaughter, general manager of IFI Patent Intelligence, said in a prepared statement. "Although the total number of patents issued is down from 2006's record high, it did beat 2005's relatively low showing."

U.S. companies held more than half the top 10 slots, but in the top 25, Japan led with 14 of the top positions and American companies held seven. Two German companies and two South Korean companies ranked in the top 25 and one Finnish company ranked in the top 25.

In patent class categories, semiconductors ranked first with 4,187 patents. Active solid state devices ranked second with 3,855 patents and telecommunications ranked third with 2,783 patents.

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