I scanned about 500 of last year's patent titles for IBM. Yep, you're
right. Nothing really useful or unique. Just simple things any of us could
come up with in our spare time in the garage. Simple, useless things like:

Trench storage DRAM cell with vertical three-sided transfer device (# 6333533)

Patterned SOI regions in semiconductor chips (# 6333532)

Method for minimizing sample damage during the ablation of material using a
focused ultrashort pulsed beam (# 6333485)

Process for manufacture of integrated circuit device using
inorganic/organic matrix comprising polymers of three dimensional
architecture (# 6333141)

And other easy and obvious things.

Now, OTOH, those notoriously inventive folks in Redmond received slightly
over 400 patents of such highly technical and difficult to create things as:

Portion of an electronic housing (# D452534)

Portion of a computer input device (# D452505)

Portion of a keyboard (#'s D452503 and D452502)

To be fair, MS did patent some seemingly inventive things as well (and IBM
did patent a few things that don't sound that complex) but most of MS's
patents don't seem that dramatic compared to the research performed at IBM
especially given that MS's R&D budget is nearly the same as IBM's. I'm
willing to bet that IBM's R&D $ yield more real invention than MS's $ do.

Randy Mangham
Pacific Crest Consulting
San Diego CA

>Of course, the total of 3,411 doesn't mention how many are really
>technological innovations, and how many are things like "Bracket for
>mounting disk drive in inverted position."   (:
>--Paul E Musselman

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