Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NSF on high value patents

Joff Wild at IAM has a post titled Looking at another American century which begins:

The National Science Foundation in the US has published its Science and Engineering Indicators 2010. This is a substantial piece of work that " focuses on the trend in the United States and many other parts of the world toward the development of more knowledge-intensive economies, in which research, its commercial exploitation, and other intellectual work play a growing role".


This is what it says about patents:

Patents on inventions for which protection is sought in the United States, the EU, and Japan require substantial resources for obtaining and maintaining them. This suggests that their owners consider them to be valuable. These patents are herein treated as an indicator of the distribution of high-value patenting around the world.

Just over 30% of high-value patents had US inventors in 2006, down somewhat from 34% in 1997. The EU’s share declined somewhat more, to 29% in 2006, followed closely by Japan. The Asia-9’s increasing share largely reflects patents with Korean inventors. As with US patents, Chinese inventors appeared on only 1% of these high-value patents.

My maths tells me that, if you accept that the NSF is right to talk of high value patents in this way (and to an extent at least I think you can), then around 90% of them are still coming from the US, the EU and Japan.

IPBiz has noted that "patent value" cannot be evaluated in the absence of a business plan. Here, the NSF and Joff, use "money spent on patent application" as a proxy for patent value. Specifically, one does not have a "high value patent" unless an application was GRANTED in the US and an application was filed in both Japan and EP. Digging into the NSF report, one finds

The expense of filing for patents in three different major markets (Japan, Europe, and the U.S.) means that, for the most part, only inventions deemed to be economically valuable will be patented in all three. The distribution of these "triadic patents" by the inventor country can provide insight into the location of important technological competencies.

One notes the NSF combines US "patents granted" with European and Japanese applications-->


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