US Patent Grants Increased by 15 Percent in 2019 from 2018
Our annual patent rankings and trends reports found that a record number of patents were granted by the USPTO last year. For the 27th year in a row, IBM was the top assignee with 9,262 US patent grants. A number of companies moved up the chart significantly in our Top 50 list, including Kia Motors moving up 55 places to number 41, Hewlett Packard Enterprise who jumped 28 places to number 48, and Facebook who went from position 58 to 36.
CRISPR, Automotive Tech, and Quantum Computing Make Our Fast Growing Technologies List
Examining trends in patent records provides great insight into which technologies are about to take off. This year's ranking revealed a few surprises along with continuing trends. Looking at patent applications and grants published for the first time from 2014–2019, IFI considered 4600 classification codes and calculated the compound annual growth rate. Highlights include:
- Technologies related to creating new hybrid plants showed 117% growth, the highest on our list. Advances in gene editing may be a contributing factor. Monsanto Technology, Pioneer Hi Bred International, and Seminis Vegetable Seeds are among the top organizations that received patents in this classification.
- Monsanto and Pioneer Hi Bred are also major contributors to growth in CRISPR genome editing technology, along with MIT, The University of California, and Harvard. While the overall category of mutation or genetic engineering grew at a low rate, CRISPR grew by 78%.
- Automotive technology has seen rapid growth over the past few years but is now slowing down. The patent classification which includes dashboards and the arrangement of instruments grew by 94% in our six-year time period. Major players include Denso, Toyota, and Hyundai.
- Showing a compound growth rate of 42%, the broad patent classification which includes quantum computing and machine learning has made our list for the past three years. IBM, Microsoft, and Google are applying for many patents in this category.
IFI Links Patent Assets to Companies on the S&P 100 List
Intangible assets play a large and growing role in the valuation of public companies. For the first time, IFI released a report linking the largest publicly traded companies with current global patent assets. “Overall, patents continue to rise among the S&P 100, with 8% growth across the list and 75% of member companies growing their patent portfolios since our first S&P analysis in May 2019,” said Mike Baycroft, CEO of IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. “We see this as an encouraging indicator of the vibrancy of some of America’s top companies in terms of innovation.”
- 36% of the S&P 100 exceeded average portfolio growth from May through December, 2019.
- Among companies with over a thousand patent families, Facebook had the fastest growth from May through December, with a 29% increase in its portfolio.
- Capital One Financing had the fastest growing portfolio, seeing 100% growth over the past seven months.
- Several pharmaceutical company portfolios shrunk 1-4% during that time period including Pfizer, Merck, Abbvie and Abbott Labs. However BMS grew by an impressive 21%.
- Morgan Stanley showed the largest decline, with its portfolio shrinking by 17%.
View the complete S&P 100 patent assets list.
AI in IP: What's Next?
Roundtable Discussion from IP Service World
Many new intellectual property platforms are using artificial intelligence to automate repetitive tasks and improve search. We asked IP Service World attendees for their thoughts on these new tools and other impacts of AI on the industry. We had great discussions ranging from whether AI can be considered an inventor on a patent application to whether new machine learning tools are changing IP management workflows.
A good deal of the conversations debated the legality of a patent application recently filed by an AI entity called DABUS in Europe, the UK, and the US. For applications to the EPO, current law states that inventors must be “natural persons” and in the US inventors must be “individuals”. In Germany, inventors are awarded a fee from the government and someone in our groups wondered who would receive this fee and sign the paperwork. (Note: Europe and the UK recently rejected the patent application.)
Participants made some very insightful points we hadn’t considered before. For example, what kinds of rights would an AI entity have? Would the AI be responsible for fee payments or be liable for infringement? The AI itself could not be party to litigation.
Read about other topics of discussion in our blog post.
Featured Partner: QuantIP