2015 U.S. Patent Trends & Insights

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Concentration at the Top: The Top 50 patent assignees together received 79,052 utility grants, or 26% of the total.  IFI tracks assignees and found that 42,864 unique assignees received utility grants in 2015.  11,109 appeared for the first time in 2015.  This means that 26% of all patents go to the top 0.1% of patenting organizations. 
Patents with no assignee accounted for 6% of the total.  Unassigned patents include patents granted to individual inventors working independently of an employer. 

New Entities: 2015 saw three traditional patenting powerhouses begin to change the way they hold their patents.  Most of Microsoft’s 2015 patents were granted to “Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC” (1,956) while only 465 were granted to “Microsoft Corp”.  Most of Panasonic’s patents were granted to “Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co Ltd” (1,474), 458 were granted to “Panasonic Intellectual Property Corp of America” and only 300 were granted to “Panasonic Corp”.  Most of Google’s patents were granted to “Google Inc” (2,835) while 360 were granted to “Google Technology Holdings LLC”.  In 2016 this trend will no doubt continue.  

Applications:  The number of US patent pre-grant publications (published applications) increased in 2015 to 381,424 from 379,453 in 2014.  This continues the trend of increasing published applications.  You could not have predicted the drop in utility grants by looking at the trend in published applications.

Classifications:  The USPTO is standardizing its patent classification system to the international Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system.  The top 10 most popular CPC codes for US utility grants are:

CPC 2015 Utility Grants CPC Definition
G06F 43,652 Computers – Electrical Digital Data Processing
H04L 28,117 Telecommunications – Transmission of Digital Information
H01L 25,409 Semiconductors
Y10T 25,108 Metal Working and Hardware – fasteners and connectors
H04N 16,602 Television and Video – Pictorial Communication
H04W 16,529 Wireless Communication Networks
A61K 12,197 Pharmaceuticals
A61B 11,921 Medical Diagnostics
G06Q 8,828 Business Methods Data Processing
G01N 8,501 Testing Instruments – Investigating or analyzing materials by determining their chemical of physical properties. 
 
 
Grants in Patent Class G06Q (business methods) showed a large decline to 8,828 from 11,690 in 2014.  The 2014 Supreme Court decision in the Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank International tightened the rules on which business methods are patentable.  The impact of the decision can be seen in the drop in G06Q patents. 

Classes G06T (Image Data Processing) and G06K (Recognition of Data) saw increases of 14% and 18% respectively. 

CPC Class Y02T covers “Climate Change Mitigation Technologies Related to Transportation.”  It is the 19th most frequent CPC classification in the US.  The number of Y02T grants was up in 2015 to 5,424 from 5,224 in 2014. 

Leaders in the Top CPC Classifications:  Who is the leader in each of the top CPC technology classifications?  The table below shows the leaders and the number of grants they received in the classification. 

 
Leaders in Top CPC Classifications
CPC Leading Assignee 2015 Utility Grants CPC Definition
G06F International Business Machines Corp 4,428 Computers – Electrical Digital Data Processing
H04L International Business Machines Corp 1,374 Telecommunications – Transmission of Digital Information
H01L Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co 1,325 Semiconductors
Y10T General Electric Co 299 Metal Working and Hardware – fasteners and connectors
H04N Canon KK 1,263 Television and Video – Pictorial Communication
H04W Qualcomm Inc 1,387 Wireless Communication Networks
A61K University of California 133 Pharmaceuticals
A61B Covidien LP 627 Medical Diagnostics
G06Q International Business Machines Corp 549 Business Methods Data Processing
G01N University of California 124 Testing Instruments – Investigating or analyzing materials by determining their chemical of physical properties. 
 
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