IBM researchers employed in and around the Triangle earned more than 350 patents in 2004, helping Big Blue set the pace for the 12th straight year in patents won by a company.

According to figures from the US Patent Office, IBM was awarded more than 3,000 patents.

Some 55 inventors in the Triangle were credited with patents.

The RTP area research and development efforts produced the highest number of patents, trailing only groups in New York state and Austin, TX.

The largest group of IBM workers in the Triangle work with software. They produced 115 patents.

IBM personal Systems in RTP earned 240 patents.

Also this week, IBM announced it was making 500 patents available for use by open source developers.