Last year, for the first time, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued more patents to foreigners than to Americans.
IPBiz suggests that "last year" is not the first time non-US entities received more US patents than US entities.
Odd text within the BW article:
American patent awards may be dropping for another reason. "A lot of U.S. companies are cost-conscious and are not filing for patents on everything," says Christopher J. Renk, an IP attorney at Chicago law firm Banner & Witcoff. Instead, they are seeking protection only on breakthroughs that seem most valuable and therefore worth the two years it takes to procure a patent. First, for most people, it takes more than two years. Second, what does this have to do with the value of the patent or the decision to patent?
The role reversal is due mostly to an upsurge in patents to inventors in Japan, South Korea, and China, and a decline in the U.S. for the second year in a row. All told, American inventors received 92,000 patents in 2008, down 1.8% from the year before and a rise of just 1.4% over the past decade. Meantime, patients [sic] issued to foreigners rose 4.5%, to 93,244, in 2008 and 28.6% since 1998.
While the U.S. is still the biggest recipient of patents—and holds the most valuable ones, according to analysis by Ocean Tomo, a firm that measures the worth of intellectual property—the slippage comes amid recent reports that show the U.S. losing its edge when it comes to innovation. Among them: a study by the National Association of Manufacturers and Boston Consulting Group that ranks the U.S. eighth, with Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland at the top.
"If I were a policymaker, I would be paying attention to this," says Wendi Backler, global leader of BCG's intellectual property practice.