IBM has always hoarded patents like a dwarf and his gold. But this year, they're the first company to ever win more than 4,000 in a single year, more than Microsoft and Intel combined.
IBM picked up 4,186 U.S patents in 2008, while Microsoft won 2,030 and Intel earned a patriotic 1,776. The silver medal surprisingly went to Samsung, who earned 3,515. We would tell you to just give up if you're planning on inventing anything, since it's already been patented, and knowing the USPTO, they've awarded patents for broad, overly general and totally obvious ideas.
But there's hope—IBM says they're going to increase the number of inventions it takes to publishing annually instead of grabbing a patent for to try to spur broader, more open innovation. But likely that just means some asshole in Minnesota will try to patent the world's first supercomputer sex machine and deprive everyone of it instead of IBM. [Reuters]