Useful Stats: SSTI analysis reviews life science patent distribution throughout the U.S., 1998-2020

It appears that innovation is contagious. Maps reveal that once there is a concentration of patents granted to inventors in one U.S. county, innovation starts to percolate in neighboring counties. And the phenomenon isn’t found only in established life sciences hubs like San Diego or Boston. SSTI observed this spillover effect in Washtenaw County, Michigan and Hennepin County, Minnesota, among other places. These data suggest that when a strong base is located, likely due to new companies and startups establishing themselves, innovation lays down its roots and spreads to other counties.

Comments to the USPTO regarding AI and inventorship

More than 50% of the patents granted in 2020 were related to AI, according to a USPTO report. Considering this large volume of AI-related patents, the office recently sought feedback regarding AI inventorship. Key points made by AUTM, BIO, Google, IBM, and Microsoft are summarized here.

Useful Stats: New utility and plant patents by state, 2016-2020

This edition of Useful Stats explores data from the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) on new utility and plant patents granted in the U.S. by state/territory for the five-year period from 2016 to 2020. This analysis includes only utility and plant patents as these types are those associated with the invention of new products and services, and excludes reissued patents and those issued for purely aesthetic designs.

State patent activity is a good indicator of the health of local innovation economies. Patents for innovative products and processes are issued to inventors across academia, industry, and the public sector, and the number of these new patents issued in states over time can provide insights into the strengths of these sectors and how well they are collectively able to bring innovative technologies out of the lab and, potentially, to market. Understanding this patent activity can help program and policy designers in local innovation economies in evaluating, enhancing, and developing their initiatives.

Recent Research: Inventor concentration boosts productivity

Jennifer Roche prepared the following summary of a recent Enrico Moretti working paper for the November 2019 issue of the NBER Digest. The summary has been edited here for length and clarity; SSTI comments are in brackets.

USPTO releases draft strategic plan, seeks comments

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a draft of its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. The draft plan identifies three strategic goals to guide USPTO’s activities over the 4-year period. They include to: optimize patent quality and timeliness; to optimize trademark quality and timeliness; and, provide domestic/global leadership to improve intellectual property (IP) policy, enforcement, and protection worldwide. For interested parties, USPTO is seeking comments regarding all aspects of the plan. Comments are due September 20.

USPTO ‘lottery’ creates huge economic advantage for winners

In a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the authors contend the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) has created a lottery-type system that creates great economic benefit for startups and other patent-seekers that drew lenient patent examiners. In What Is A Patent Worth? Evidence from The U.S. Patent “Lottery,” the authors found that patent applications by startups that were reviewed by lenient USPTO examiners had, on average, 55 percent higher employment growth and 80 percent higher sales growth five years later. Those startups also pursue more and higher quality, follow-on innovation. These results are, in large part, due to increased access of funding from VCs, banks, and public investors.

Patent trolls delivered setbacks in court rulings

Two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions will greatly shape patent holder rights by limiting where patent lawsuits can be filed and restricting patent rights after a product is sold. These rulings are considered by many analysts to be beneficial for startups, small businesses, and consumers. The biggest losers will be patent trolls – patent owners who collect IP rights only to seek infringement damages – who likely will face more pushback against their patent lawsuits and may see fewer settlements.

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