The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) releases a yearly report, prepared from the Technology Assessment and Forecast (TAF) database, with all the patent counts by origin and by organizations that received 40 or more patents during the calendar year.
We have decided to have a look at the last few years in order to discover if there have been major changes within this IP field. We decided to compare reports from the last 10 years (2003-2013) to be able to cover the changes (if any) that have occurred during this period.
First of all, we noticed two important records relating to these data. The number of patents registered since 2003 has increased with around 84,000 more patents in 2013, even though it was not a proportional increase. Surprisingly, the biggest increase happened in 2010 with 224,505 patents as opposed to the 167,349 registered in 2009. It is also important to note that almost half of the patents presented each year are from U.S. origin and the rest have a foreign origin. This means there are as many patents registered in the U.S. from other countries as from within the United States and it is important to know where those patents mainly come from.
The first 4 foreign countries registering patents in the U.S. are: Japan, Germany, Taiwan and South Korea. Japan is always the leader and has almost three times more patents registered than the second on the list (which is usually Germany although Taiwan was in this position in 2011). Spain is normally around the 20th position in this list. So, after reading this, the next question would be: what are these countries patenting? What do Japan and the U.S. have that the rest of countries do not?
And that is why we looked at the companies with more registered patents. It was obvious that these companies were all about technology, such as:
International business machines corporation Matsushita electric industrial co., ltd. Canon kabushiki kaisha Hewlett-packard development company, l.p. Micron technology, inc. Samsung electronics co., ltd. Intel corporation Hitachi, ltd Toshiba corporation Sony corporation Panasonic corporation General electric company Lg electronics inc. Fujitsu limited
All these big well-known companies develop new features based on computers and mobile phones. Except for the General electric company which helps with the connections for all these new devices.
In conclusion, as we can see the IP picture has not changed much for the last 10 years, even though there has been an important increase, patents are almost always registered by the same companies within the same countries. Is it possible to change this? What do we need to do? For example, in Spain, would it be possible to overcome all those 20 countries ahead of us? Last year’s European Inventor Award 2014 was granted to Artur Fischer (Germany) for his lifetime achievement with almost 1,100 patent applications, the year before it was granted to Martin Schadt (Switzerland) inventor of the world’s first LCD panel, in 2012 Josef Bille (Germany) won the same award for laser eye surgery technology, and so on… What happens in Spain? Don’t we have inventors within our borders? The Times newspaper also releases their Higher Education World University Rankings’ Engineering and Technology table, where a 60% of their rating is based on “research quality”, and Spain is absolutely out of the first 100 while U.S. , U.K. and Switzerland are among the first ones.
According to our knowledge, a society develops as fast as their Intellectual Property which is why maybe all those countries with enough means, facilities and funds should probably pay attention to all these tables and data, including Spain.
All data mentioned in this article comes from: