Electronics companies propelled the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to issue an average of 476 American patents a day throughout 2006. IFI Claims Patent Services notes that 173,772 corporate patents were issued in 2006, an all-time record and a 20.8% increase over 2005. IBM lead the pack for the 14th year in a row, receiving a record 3,621 patents. IBM, Samsung, Canon, Matsushita and Hewlett-Packard all received over 2,000 patents each, which prior to 2006, only IBM has achieved. The patent office said it received 440,000 applications, examined 332,000 of them and accepted 54%, a particularly record low clearance rate.
Thanks to constant innovation, electronics patents traditionally have a short lifespan, which results in companies continually filing for and receiving new ones. Earlier this week, the Public Patent Foundation discovered that software patents are a growing sector of intellectual property claims. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded 40,964 software patents, an increase of 36% from 2005. The Public Patent Foundation, an organization that tries to invalidate patents and lobby for patent reform, claims software patents often cover trivial technologies and stunt innovation.
News source: CBC News