IBM researchers received 4,914 U.S. patents in 2009, more than any other company for the 17th straight year.
The New York technology company is one of this region's largest private employers, with about 10,000 workers at its massive Research Triangle Park campus. Besides bragging rights among scientists, the ongoing patent domination helps IBM boost sales by fostering new products and services.
IBM spends about $6 billion a year on research and development, spokesman Chris Andrews told Bloomberg News.
In North Carolina, IBMers received 570 patents in 2009, the leading company in the state, Andrews said.
IBM's total patent haul was about 50 percent more than in 2004. Last year, Samsung was No. 2 with 3,611 patents, reported research firm IFI Patent Intelligence. Microsoft was No. 3 with 2,906, followed by Canon with 2,206, and Panasonic with 1,829.
Among IBM’s patents was one that covers a way to increase the speed of so-called petaflop calculations – those faster than 1 quadrillion per second – on its Blue Gene supercomputer, Bloomberg reported. IBM says such speeds will improve its ability to map the human genome and predict climate trends.
Another patent covers a method for banks to make real-time assessments of a customer’s transactions and thus reduce fraud.
Last year, IBM also published nearly 4,000 technical inventions, which lets the advances become freely available to the public. That move also allows IBM to skip obtaining a patent, a process that is time consuming and costly. And publishing the inventions typically prevents rivals from patenting the same breakthrough, since patents can only cover new developments.