IBM Is Patent Leader—Again

Big Blue produced more than 3,000 patents in 2002; Canon was second with 1,893.

For the second consecutive year, IBM produced more than 3,000 patents in 2002, according to the Armonk, N.Y., company.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded IBM 3,288 patents in 2002, an indication that innovation is as important as the technology itself at Big Blue, said Brian Connors, chief technology officer and vice president of business development and quality at IBMs Personal Systems Group, in Raleigh, N.C.

Canon Inc. was awarded the second most patents, with 1,893.

"Almost anybody can integrate," Connors said. "We do that pretty well. But not anybody can invent."

Many of the most important patents reflected IBMs On Demand initiative, including such technology as grid computing and autonomic devices, or self-healing and self-monitoring computers.

For example, one patent covers technology that enables a computer to share jobs with other computers in a network by sending jobs to the other computers. Those computers, in turn, send the results back to the sending computer once the tasks are completed.

Another patent relates to a computers ability to automatically detect when its been moved within a work environment, and then will establish new network settings. One patent involves self-monitoring computers that can determine when the environment is negatively impacting them.

Connors said customers can expect to see many of these capabilities finding their way into products in the coming year. For PC users, they will join a growing line of technologies that are part of IBMs ThinkVantage initiative designed to ease PC management for corporate IT administrators.

In all, IBM has received 22,357 patents over the past 10 years, about 7,000 more than Canon, and more than 10 of the largest tech companies—including Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Dell Computer Corp.—combined, according to IBM. For Big Blue, that has meant about $10 billion generated in intellectual property royalties over that time.