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Oil Patch Follows Smartphone Makers in Patent Defenses

Battles for supremacy in the $680 billion oil and gas industry are moving from the hardhats and steel-toed boots of the drilling rig to the Brooks Brothers suits of law firms representing the biggest patent holders.

Schlumberger Ltd., Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc., the world’s largest oil service providers, secured a total of 1,257 patents last year, more than twice the annual number of a decade earlier. In the past three years, Exxon Mobil Corp. doubled its revenue from technology it licenses to others.