American Companies Capture Less than Majority of 2009 U.S. Patent Pool
|Second Year Running, Foreign Firms Take Slight Collective Lead Despite Substantial Individual Gains by U.S. Firms
WILMINGTON, Del., (Jan. 12, 2010) — For the second straight year, foreign companies collectively captured a slight majority of new U.S. patents awarded to corporations by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). According to an annual corporate ranking released today by IFI Patent Intelligence (www.ificlaims.com), U.S. corporations garnered 49 percent of all U.S. utility patents issued in 2009 with the remainder going to foreign firms. This is only the second time that foreign companies collectively received more U.S. patents than U.S.-based firms.
“It’s foolhardy to use this statistic to infer that American firms are losing ground to foreign competitors because with patents, it’s important to consider quality, as well as quantity,” said Darlene Slaughter, general manager of IFI Patent Intelligence. “What we’re seeing this year is that innovation in American firms is far from declining, in fact, many had impressive gains and several posted record numbers of total new patents.”
As a whole, U.S. companies received approximately 7 percent more utility patents in 2009 than in 2008, compared to 6.5 percent by foreign companies. The U.S. also received more than twice as many corporate patents than Japan (23%), the country with the second most U.S. patents issued in 2009. South Korea (5.6%) moved into third place displacing Germany (5.2%) for the first time.
#1 IBM Approaches 5,000-Patent Mark, Sets All-Time High
Collectively, U.S. firms may be slightly behind foreign firms as a group, but individually, they showed significant improvement over 2008. For example, IBM achieved an all-time high for any company of 4,914, up 17 percent. Microsoft took over the #3 slot boosting its total patents by 43 percent. IFI observed several additional impressive year-over-year gains by U.S. firms in the top 50:
Although the margin of patent dominance between U.S. and non-U.S. firms is slight and has been for several years, there is no uncertainty that foreign firms are adding patents at a frenetic pace. “Interest in protecting corporate intellectual property has become intense both in the U.S. and abroad, and as a result we’re seeing an increased level of patent activity,” continued Slaughter. “The silver lining may be that the high priority foreign firms place on U.S. patents is a confirmation of the value and importance that the U.S. market represents.”
IFI Posts 2009’s Top-50 Patent Recipients
Employing proprietary authority lists and algorithms to enhance the speed and accuracy of the culling process, IFI analyzed 2009 calendar year USPTO data and prepared what has become the official ranking of U.S. patent assignees. The company posted the 2009 top-50 today on its website at www.ificlaims.com:
Great Recession Yet to Stem FlowAccording to IFI’s analysis, the USPTO issued a total of 167,350 utility patents in calendar year 2009, up 6.1% over 2008, and approaching the all-time high of 173,772 set in 2006. It would appear that the economic downturn of the past two years has yet to slow the flow of U.S. patent activity. However, the USPTO posted a 1.8 percent decrease in patent applications for its fiscal year 2009 for a total of 457,966, the first annual decrease in applications since fiscal year 1996. As a result, this decrease could translate into fewer patent issues in the coming two or three years.
Market sectors with the heaviest new patent activity include Multiplex Communications (US class 370) and Semiconductors (US classes 438 and 257), representing almost 15,000 patents total for 2009. The bio sectors of Drug Compositions (US class 514) had 3,474 patents and Biotechnology (US class 435) had over 2,700 patents issued, up 17 percent and 1 percent respectively over the previous year.
IFI compiles its list using the powerful indexing and standardization algorithms of CLAIMS®, the most reliable, text-searchable database of U.S. patents in the world. The collection of CLAIMS® databases makes searching for patent data accurate and efficient. CLAIMS® is available via Dialog, STN International and Questel.
For more than 50 years, IFI has been the preeminent producer of patent databases. Complete information on more than 1,800 companies worldwide that received 10 or more U.S. patents in 2009 will be published in IFI’s Patent Intelligence and Technology Report, available in May. For more information, visit www.ificlaims.com.
###EDITORS: For analysis, factoids, market breakdowns or to set an interview, please contact Tom Kivett at 212-727-2935 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.