According to legal information provider Sweet and Maxwell, last year 14,205 patent applications for computer-related products and technologies were filed.

In 2011 that figure was 11,974, showing an increase of 19% in 2012.

Graphene, an ultra thin layer carbon layer that can be used to make flexible screens, was a particularly popular patent subject in 2012 says intellectual property lawyer Gwylim Roberts.

The high-profile patent wars between tech giants such as Apple and Samsung, Google and Microsoft, may have contributed to the increase in filings, Mr Roberts believes.

Mr Roberts believes that while patents give owners ‘exclusivity’ over their ideas, they are starting to get in the way of business objectives.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, refused to patent his creation. He said all he had done was to bring existing elements together.

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