In the news this week, research firm IFI CLAIMS Patent Services reported that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted 304,126 utility patents, the most on record for a single year, according to the survey. IBM Corp. was awarded 8,088 U.S. patents in 2016 — the most any company has ever acquired in a calendar year — putting it on top for the 24th consecutive year.

"Leading the world in innovation for 24 years in a row is a result of IBM's unmatched commitment to innovation and R&D – reflected in this year's new U.S. patent record," said IBM chairman, president and CEO Ginni Rometty in a press release. "We are deeply proud of our inventors' unique contributions to discovery, science and technology that are driving progress across business and society and opening the new era of cognitive business."

More than 2,700 of the patents issued to IBM protect inventions in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and cloud computing. Much of IBM's R&D into artificial intelligence and cognitive computing have supported the growth of the "Watson" which IBM describes as " a cognitive technology that can think like a human." To read more about "Watson" and its potentially far reaching applications, read author Steve Brachmann's article entitled IBM achieves record number of U.S. patents in 2016, 24th straight year of patent dominance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.