In 2021 non-U.S. based companies obtained the majority of U.S. Patents, again

Jesse Fenty, IP Atty, Executive Director, Endless IP | Director, NSBE IP SIG

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According to statistics accumulated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and Endless IP®, since 2008, foreign (non-U.S. based) companies have filed more U.S. Patent Applications and obtained more U.S. Patents than companies that are based in the United States.

For calendar year 2021, there were 362,057 U.S. Patents granted to companies around the world. 161,206 of these Patents were obtained by U.S. companies. 200,851 were obtained by non-U.S. companies. Thus in 2021, about 55% of U.S. Patents were awarded to non-U.S. based companies.

What does this mean? Many things.

For one, companies that are driving the majority of innovation in the United States are not from the United States. United States citizens and companies are dependent on technology that is developed elsewhere, yet owned here.

Patents are a negative property right, meaning one can exclude someone from making, using, or selling subject matter covered by their Patent. Because of this, technology developed in other countries could be used to prevent innovation by United States inventors and companies. 

Let’s look at one example. The modern smartphone is made up of many different components from many different companies. One component of the smartphone (and laptop computers and PCs) is the touch screen, which often uses liquid crystal display (LCD) technology.

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Performing a search of the U.S. Patent database for 2021, Endless IP® uncovered 557 U.S. Patents that have “liquid crystal display,” “LCD,” or “liquid crystal device” in the title of the Patents. Of these, 246 belong to Japanese companies, 153 to Chinese companies, 99 to Korean companies, 19 to U.S. companies, 13 to Taiwanese companies, and 27 to a variety of companies from other countries.

Therefore if someone wants to develop LCD technology for the U.S. market, they must get in line behind companies such as Sharp Kabushiki (JP), Shenzhen China Star (CN), and Samsung (KR).

The United States was one of the first, if not the first country to establish a comprehensive Patent system to protect inventors and stimulate innovation and commerce. Over time, other countries have studied the U.S. model and are beating U.S. inventors and companies at their own game.

originally posted on LinkedIn


About dalain

Dalain is a Technical Program Manager, entrepreneur and speaker that specializes in Technology for Businesses, STEM, StartUps, and Economic Development. As well as running a business and writing, he spends time volunteering in the community, supporting Black Businesses, listening to underground hip hop, and helping those in need.