"Since a lot of the patents that were issued in 2008 were based on applications that were made as long ago as 2005 and 2006, there has not - as yet - been an affect on patent applications and awards from the economic meltdown. And given the huge backlog of applications, even if companies do slash their research and development budgets and therefore the number of patentable technologies, the effect may take years to show up in the patent counts. Patents are one of those issues in IT that drives people nuts - rightly so considering the abuses of high tech vendors. If the New York district attorney can indict a ham sandwich, IBM can probably get a patent on the sandwich and the process that the DA uses as part of a business process re-engineering and outsourcing contract. (That hasn't happened - at least not yet)."