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IBM again tops US patent list

IBM has held the top spot on the US Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) annual list of the top 10 corporations receiving the most US patents for inventions for the 11th year in a row.

With a preliminary count of 3,415 patents issued in 2003, IBM comfortably outpaced the runner-up, Canon, which also held the number-two spot in 2002. Canon landed 1,992 patents in 2003.

Intel broke into the top 10 for the first time, checking in at number seven, with 1,592 patents. Last year, the company ranked 15th.

Other US companies on the list were Hewlett-Packard at number five, and chip maker Micron Technology at number six. Micron slipped from the number-three spot on last year's list, while HP climbed from its previous showing at ninth place.

Rounding out the top 10 were Hitachi (number three), Matsushita (number four), Philips (number eight), Samsung (number nine) and Sony (number 10).

Last year, four US companies ranked in the top 10, up from two in 2001.

HP piggybacked on the list's announcement to unveil a year-old intellectual property licensing organisation intended to oversee and expand its licensing activities. The group is headed by Joe Beyers, HP's vice president of IP licensing. About 50 people inside and outside HP are involved with the IP group.

While the IP organization is structured as a separate, wholly owned holding company, its revenue will not be broken out in HP's financial reports, said Steve Fox, HP's deputy general counsel in charge of IP.

Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service

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