Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

Geographical Patent Trends (2000-2005).

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on March 8, 2007

JW Addendum (June 6, 2007): We have updated this post based on reader comments.  The updated post may be found here.  Enjoy!  

We were recently inspired by a post at The Patent Librarian, which analyzed the patents granted from each U.S. state on a per capita basis in 2006 (and on a nicely color-coded map, we might add).  In particular, this post made us wonder whether there were any particular trends relating to where innovation is occuring (geographically speaking).

1.)  As a first (and admittedly non-scientific) look, we examined 2000 – 2005 data from the USPTO for utility patents granted.  Then, using the 2000 data as a baseline, we determined the percent change in utility patents granted for each state.  See below.


As a first observation, we were awestruck that a large percentage (88%) of the states exhibited a decrease in the number of utility patents granted to inventors in those states over the five year period analyzed.  Of the remaining 12%, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Maine exhibited a substantial increase (36%, 26%, 21%, and 19%, respectively) in patents granted, and California and Colorado exhibited only a minor increase (3% or less).   

2.)  We also conducted the same analysis of the top 25 foreign countries for patent filings in the U.S.  See below. 


Notably (and probably not that surprising), China and India exhibited the greatest increases in U.S. patents granted, on a percentage basis over the five year period.  Also notable, Japan actually had a 3% decrease in U.S. patents granted in 2005 versus 2000, although the country still vastly outnumbered all other countries in the absolute number of patents granted (over 30,000 . . . Germany was the next closest with a little over 9,000). 

3.)  We further conducted this analysis for the U.S. states on a per capita basis (using data from the U.S. Census for 2000 – 2005).  See below.


We found the per capita numbers to be even more surprising.  Only four states (Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Maine) saw a per capita increase in patents granted!  Also, although a number of the bottom states have a relatively small population and therefore would be more greatly impacted on a per capita basis by a change in patents granted, we note that Pennsylvania (6th most populous state) was 4th to last, having a drop of almost 11 patents granted per 100,000 residents in the five year period examined.

JW Note:  More analysis to follow.  Suggestions on what to examine next are welcomed.

JW Note:  General food-for-thought for commenting – What do these trends show, if anything?  Is this purely an economically-based phenomenon (where goes the economy, so goes patent spending)?  If not, what is happening to innovation in the U.S.?  Are Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Maine doing anything different to foster innovation in their respective states?

3 Responses

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  1. MJM said, on March 14, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    What’s odd is the trend in number of utility patents issued in that timeframe – which may explain why your results seem odd (e.g., why 88% of the states had a decrease in number of patents). Here are the total number of patents issued each year (assuming I did my search correctly – includes design patents, reissues, etc.):

    1992 107,511
    1993 109,890
    1994 113,704
    1995 113,855
    1996 121,805
    1997 124,147
    1998 163,203
    1999 169,145
    2000 176,082
    2001 184,046
    2002 184,418
    2003 187,047
    2004 181,319
    2005 157,740
    2006 196,437

    Even without doing some sort of statistical analysis, it is obvious that there was a statistically significant dropoff in 2005. And, by the looks of it, that dropoff may have begun in 2004. But in 2006, there was a significant uptick. You can also see that there was a significant increase in 1998. So, it is obvaious that 88% of the states saw a decrease between 2000 and 2005 because there was an overall 10% drop in the number of patents issued. But the dropoff for certain states exceeds 10% by quite a bit.

  2. Jake Ward said, on March 14, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Great comment MJM. We’ll be adding in the 2006 state data from the 2006 Annual Report ( soon.

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