Microsoft's chairman said Thursday that the company expects to file 3,000 patent applications this year, up from a little over 2,000 last year and 1,000 just a few years ago.
Hitting the 3,000 mark would put the software giant in a league almost by itself. Last year, IBM ranked as the champion company in this particular race,from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with no close runners-up in the high-tech field. was No. 5 on the list with 1,759.
The push for more patents comes as Microsoft is trying to boost the licensing of its intellectual property to other companies, anthat began last year.
"We're at an early state on that but it is something that we are pretty excited (about)," Gates said, speaking at the company's yearly financial analysts meeting here.
It's not just a goal of attaining sheer numbers, Gates said. "We think--patent for patent--what we are doing is, if anything, more important than what others are doing."
In addition to patents related toand other software technologies, Microsoft has received some unusual patents in the past year including one for a method for and one for a although Microsoft said that was a lawyer's error and the patent belongs to someone else.
Gates demonstrated several new technologies that the company's research unit is working on, including an improved method for browsing through a library of digital photos and videos.