Is America Losing Patent Dominance?
IFI Patent Intelligence, however, points to evidence that America's patent dominance may be slipping away to companies overseas, especially to those in Asia.
In a review of 2008 utility patents, IFI found that American companies captured only 49 percent of U.S. patents granted to companies. That compares to 50 percent in 2007. In addition, the U.S. holds only four of the top 10 slots, down from five in 2007. American firms also hold only 12 positions in the top 35, which collectively generated 26 percent of all the utility patents granted in 2008.
By comparison, Japanese companies hold five of the top 10 slots and 14 of the top 35. Although America is still the leading country in total new patents for 2008, IFI noted that Japan trails second with 23 percent. Germany, meanwhile, is third with six percent, South Korea is fourth with five percent, and Taiwan fifth with four percent.
"Although data suggest that American companies garnered a minority share of the total number of corporate U.S. patents last year, it's important not to confuse quantity with quality," said Darlene Slaughter, general manager of IFI. "What's clear is that many of the world's largest companies are placing a higher priority on protecting their intellectual property. This trend is occurring both here in the U.S. and abroad, especially in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and other countries in Europe. Securing patents may be even more important in a down economy, since it gives patent holders an edge over their competitors."