The World Intellectual Property Organisation has published its annual report on Statistics of Worldwide Patent Activity. (Data current to 2004.)
According to the report, the number of patent applications file in 2004 rose to 1,559,000. More than 600,000 patents were granted worldwide in 2004. Other sections of the report cover filings by residents and non-residents, indicators of patent activity (filings per million population, per GDP, etc.), issued patents and patents in force.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.