A roundup of the latest high-tech news from The Associated Press:
• Recession triggers decline in patent filings
GENEVA – The number of international patent filings dropped last year for the first time since 1978 as companies hit by the global economic downturn sought fewer new protections on their intellectual property, according to the U.N.
Most patents filed in 2009 were for computer technology, followed by pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. Innovations in computer chip design and nanotechnology saw the greatest rise in patents.
The World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, received about 155,900 international patent filings last year, a drop of 4.5 percent compared with the nearly 164,000 filings received a year earlier.
Inventors in the United States still registered the highest number of international patents – 45,790, or almost a third of the total. But U.S. filings were down 11 percent compared with 2008.
Third-ranked Germany saw its patent filings drop by a similar amount to 16,736.
Asian inventors on the other hand increased their share and overall registrations, with Japan filing 29,827 international patent through WIPO. South Koreans registered 8,066 applications, just ahead of China’s 7,946 filings – an increase of almost 30 percent year-on-year.
Japan’s Panasonic Corp. was the company with the most patent filings, ahead of Huawei Technologies Co. of China and German firm Robert Bosch GmbH.
WIPO’s annual patent figures are an important indicator of global IP protection efforts and therefore innovation.
For a fee, companies can file a request for patent protection in any or all of the 142 countries that have subscribed to the U.N.’s Patent Cooperation Treaty, avoiding the need to make individual filings in each country.
WIPO is the only United Nations agency whose income comes largely from services it provides to private industry, rather than contributions paid by member states.
• Intel teams up with China’s investment fund
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Chip maker Intel Corp. said Friday that its investment arm will team with China’s sovereign wealth fund to invest in new technology.
The company said Intel Capital and China Investment Corp. will find companies in a variety of technology sectors to invest in outside of China.
Intel, the world’s biggest provider of chips that run personal computers, did not say how much it plans to invest through the partnership or when it will start. Intel spokeswoman Amy Kircos said the company was not ready to provide more details.
• McAfee shares up after 4Q results, outlook
NEW YORK — Shares of McAfee Inc. jumped Friday after the maker of security software posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue.
The company’s profit, meanwhile, met Wall Street’s expectations, and McAfee’s board approved a stock buyback program of up to $500 million.
Looking ahead, the company forecast a profit of 60 cents to 64 cents per share, excluding items, on revenue of $500 million to $520 million for the current quarter.
Analysts are expecting a profit of 63 cents per share on sales of $507.3 million, according to a Thomson Reuters poll.
McAfee also said Rocky Pimentel, its chief financial officer, will retire this year.
"While the quarter and guidance are fairly uneventful, the CFO departure could prompt some extra questions. However, we are not concerned," wrote Jefferies analyst Katherine Egbert in a note to investors. She reiterated a "Buy" rating on McAfee, because she expects them to win a large contract from Hewlett-Packard Co., which is currently worth about $200 million a year to rival Symantec.
Egbert separately downgraded Symantec to "Hold" from "Buy" over the contract issue.
Shares of McAfee rose $1.64, or 4.3 percent, to $39.53. The stock has traded in the 52-week range of $26.65 and $45.68.
• Sonic Wall results top analyst expectations
SAN FRANCISCO — Shares of SonicWall Inc. climbed Friday after the network security technology company reported fourth-quarter results that beat analyst expectations.
The company also predicted first-quarter revenue above Wall Street predictions. SonicWall shares rose 63 cents, or 8.1 percent, to $8.39 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded between $3.64 and $8.80 in the past year.
Late Thursday, SonicWall said its fourth-quarter profit rose 43 percent year over year to 9 cents per share, or 11 cents per share excluding one-time items. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected adjusted earnings of 10 cents per share.
The company’s revenue was nearly flat as $54.1 million. Analysts predicted revenue of $52.2 million.
SonicWall forecast first-quarter adjusted earnings of 9 cents or 10 cents per share on revenue of $52 million to $54 million. Analysts predict adjusted earnings of 10 cents per share on $50.2 million in revenue.
In a note to clients, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Joel Fishbein Jr. reiterated his "Buy" rating and $11 price target on the stock.
"New business remains healthy, as evidenced by 20 percent deferred revenue growth in the quarter, and we expect subscription revenue to pick up in the back half of 2010 and into 2011," he said.