International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) announced Thursday that it registered a record 6,478 patents in 2012, in the U.S. The patents received were nearly 1400 more than the next company on the list, Samsung.

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This has been a remarkable achievement for IBM. In the last 20 years, IBM have held the top slot in the annual list of U.S. patent recipients, stretching its patent streak by  more than 8,000 inventions in the last 12 months.

“We are proud of this new benchmark in technological and scientific creativity, which grows out of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s century-long commitment to research and development,” said Ginni Rometty, chairman and CEO, IBM. “Most concretely, our 2012 patent record and the two decades of leadership it extends are a testament to thousands of brilliant IBM inventors — the living embodiments of our devotion to innovation that matters, for our clients, for our company and for the world.”

One of the Patents from IBS is a cognitive system implemented on IBM Watson. The patent makes a computer accept a natural-language question, understand it and answer it. Another patent relates to traffic prediction, which informs congestion information to in-car GPS systems. About 300 of the IBM’s new patents are related to analytics, much in line with the company’s goal to solve the “big data” problem. In analytics, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has been investing both organically and through acquisitions.

The second spot was bagged by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) with 5081 patents. Next in the list is Canon (3,147 patents), Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (3,032 patents), and Panasonic Corporation (NYSE:PC) (2,769 patents), according to data provided by IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. This year’s top 50 list had few surprises. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for the first time entered the elite 50, coming in at number 21, ahead of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) by 15 patents. Google recorded the biggest increase in patent count, 170 percent year over year, by any company. Apple filed 60 percent more patents in 2012 and rose to the 22 slot from 39 last year.

Patents, nowadays are much more than just bragging rights. A robust patent portfolio is used as an arsenal by companies to sue other companies for royalties on borrowed technologies, and also to fend off lawsuits. Critics are of the opinion that patents do more harm than good in protecting companies from competition, as the patents are widely used now days to kill competition.