Three Japanese behemoths led the list of companies receiving the most U.S. patents in 1987. Canon K.K., Hitachi Ltd., and Toshiba together received more patents (2,515) than General Electric Co., IBM Corp., and RCA Corp. (1,874), according to a study by Intellectual Property Owners. The Japanese also raced to a commanding lead in the auto industry, where Mitsubishi, Honda, and Toyota each chalked up more patents than the U.S. leader, General Motors. All told, 29 Japanese companies appear among the top 100 companies in number of U.S. patents received. Combined, the Asian top 29 racked up 8,136 U.s. patents in one year. Compare those numbers to these: In 1986, the latest year for which figures are available from the U.S. Patent Office, a grand total of 3,976 patents were granted to Americans by the Japanese patent office.

If your research is in telecommunications technology, the Baby Bells, spawned by the...

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