Nearly half of all U.S. patents given for processes or products last year were issued to foreigners, Patents and Trademarks Commissioner Donald Quigg said Saturday.

Foreign inventors were issued 48 percent of U.S. "utility" patents for processes or products, compared with 38 percent in 1976, Quigg said in a report to the American Bar Association's Section on Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law meeting in Toronto, Canada.Other types of patents are given for plants or designs.

Among the the top 12 corporations receiving U.S. utility patents in 1987, five were Japanese companies.

Quigg said more than 126,400 applications and 82,635 patents were issued in 1987.

Even though large corporations account for most patent applications, more small companies and individuals are applying for patents, he noted.