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International Business Machines has captured the top spot among U.S. patent recipients for the fifth consecutive year. Big Blue said it received 1,724 U.S. patents in 1997, the second-highest total in its history after the record 1,867 it was awarded in 1996. Canon placed second, while NEC beat out Motorola to take the No. 3 slot. For the second straight year, Japanese companies captured seven of the top 10 spots and U.S. companies the remaining three.