Looks like IBM is back on top in the patent wars. An article from Reuters says IBM was granted 4,168 patents in 2008, the most ever received by a single entity in a year. Samsung was second with 2,515.
Perhaps more interesting is the source that Reuters used to acquire this data - a company called IFI Claims Patent Services is trying to do something pretty interesting. They have a database of all patents, and are trying to automate the process of sorting and evaluating patents into groups related by subject area and other criteria. Not sure how good the system is, as I have yet to use it, but anything helps. Figuring out what the patent landscape looks like in a specific area can take quite a bit of time unless you have quite a bit of prior experience in the specific field *and* in the IP aspects of the specific field.