NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- IBM ( IBM) topped the annual list of U.S. patent recipients for the 20th consecutive year. The Armonk, New York-based hardware and software giant was granted a record 6,478 patents in 2012, according to statistics compiled by IFI Claims Patent Services, comfortably ahead of Korean gadget heavyweight Samsung, which received 5,081 patents. Only two other U.S. firms made the top 10 -- Microsoft ( MSFT), in fifth place, with 2,613 patents, and General Electric ( GE), in ninth, with 1,652 U.S. patents. No. 1 PC maker HP ( HPQ) was the next highest-ranked U.S. company, in 15th place with 1,394 patents, closely followed by GM's ( GM) Global Technology Operations, Qualcomm ( QCOM) and Intel ( INTC). Broadcom ( BRCM), Google ( GOOG) and Apple ( AAPL) ranked 20th, 21st and 22nd, respectively. Here's the top 10 list, according to IFI Claims Patent Services: 1. IBM 2. Samsung 3. Canon 4. Sony 5. Panasonic 6. Microsoft 7. Toshiba 8. Hon Hai Precision Industry 9. General Electric 10. LG Electronics IBM said that its latest raft of patents span areas such as Big Data, which is dealing with large volumes of unstructured data, analytics, cybersecurity, cloud, mobile, social networking and software-defined technologies, as well as industries such as retail, banking, health care and transportation. "We are proud of this new benchmark in technological and scientific creativity, which grows out of IBM's century-long commitment to research and development," said IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, in a statement. Big Blue, which celebrated its centennial in 2011, said that its inventors received nearly 67,000 patents between 1993 and 2012. Last year Google acquired more than 200 patents from IBM in attempt to bolster its own patent portfolio. IBM shares, which have gained 5.98% over the last 12 months, dipped 0.18% to $191.97 in early trading on Thursday. --Written by James Rogers in New York. Follow @jamesjrogers >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.