2019 Trends and Insights

2019 was a strong year for US patents. 333,530 patent grants were issued by the USPTO—an all-time high. After a down year in 2018, US patent grants rebounded by a solid 15%. US published applications grew by a smaller 5%.

Why the increase? Part of the reason may be improved clarity over what is patentable after the Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice v. CLS Bank decision.  See the IPWatchdog post by Kate Gaudry & Samuel Hayim Update on 101 Rejections at the USPTO: Prospects for Computer-Related Applications Continue to Improve Post-Guidance.

The growth in patent activity appears despite a slowdown in US capital spending. See the Bloomberg report  U.S. Manufacturers Plan First Pullback in Investment Since 2009.

A chart of US utility grants and published pre-grant applications is shown below. Applications are fairly flat while grants decline in 2018 and rebound in 2019. 



Countries

IFI CLAIMS looked at the countries where the US patent recipients are based. The US leads, followed by Japan and Korea. China shows the strongest growth, continuing a well-established trend. 

 


Regions

Looking at the largest patent-producing regions, North America and Asia showed gains. Europe showed a slight decline.

 

Companies

Top 50 companies that showed strong gains include: 
  • Kia Motors – jumps 55 places to #41
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise – jumps 28 places to #48
  • Facebook – jumps 22 places to #36
  • Huawei – Huawei jumps up six places to #10
  • Micron Technology – Micron jumps 9 places to #25
  • BOE Technology – BOE jumps up 4 places to #13
  • Microsoft – Microsoft jumps 3 places to #4
  • LG Chem – LG Chem breaks into the top 50 at #50

Technologies

IFI CLAIMS looked at US patent grants by Cooperative Patent Classification codes. The high-technology classes dominate, as they have for several years. G06F and H04L are the largest classes. A61B (medical devices) showed a strong gain while A61K (pharmaceuticals) showed a modest gain of 5%. G06Q (business methods) showed a strong gain. Business methods and software have been areas with patentability questions. 
Rank CPC Classification 2019 2018 Change Definition
1 G06F 58,821 48,425 23.5%

ELECTRICAL DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING

2 H04L 39,301 33,334 17.9%

TRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION

3 H01L 28,373 25,443 11.6%

SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES; ELECTRIC SOLID STATE DEVICES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR

4 H04W 24,288 21,408 13.5%

WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS

5 H04N 20,062 17,592 14.0%

PICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION

6 A61B 17,447 13,875 25.7%

DIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION

7 G06Q 15,873 11,504 38.0%

DATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES…

8 A61K 14,183 13,474 5.2%

PREPARATIONS FOR MEDICAL, DENTAL, OR TOILET PURPOSES

9 G06T 12,809 9,672 32.4%

IMAGE DATA PROCESSING OR GENERATION

10 G02B 12,653 10,055 25.8%

OPTICAL ELEMENTS, SYSTEMS, OR APPARATUS

11 G06K 11,910 8,988 26.8% RECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
12 G01N 11,788 9,941 13.5% INVESTIGATING OR ANALYSING MATERIALS BY DETERMINING THEIR CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
13 H04B 11,495 9,776 13.9% TRANSMISSION
14 H05K 7,027 6,657 2.6% PRINTED CIRCUITS; CASINGS OR CONSTRUCTIONAL DETAILS OF ELECTRIC APPARATUS; MANUFACTURE OF ASSEMBLAGES OF ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS
15 Y02T 6,778 6,806 -3.7% CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO TRANSPORTATION
16 A61M 6,330 5,122 23.6% DEVICES FOR INTRODUCING MEDIA INTO, OR ONTO, THE BODY
17 G09G 6,497 5,147 26.2% ARRANGEMENTS OR CIRCUITS FOR CONTROL OF INDICATING DEVICES USING STATIC MEANS TO PRESENT VARIABLE INFORMATION
18 C12N 5,956 5,878 1.3% MICROORGANISMS OR ENZYMES
19 A61F 5,891 4,728 20.1% FILTERS IMPLANTABLE INTO BLOOD VESSELS
20 G02F 5,864 4,725 24.1% DEVICES OR ARRANGEMENTS, THE OPTICAL OPERATION OF WHICH IS MODIFIED BY CHANGING THE OPTICAL PROPERTIES OF THE MEDIUM OF THE DEVICES