Innovation, Patents Parallel Economic Growth
When it comes to having a booming thriving economy nothing is more important than ideas. Innovation leads economic success.
Production levels, efficiencies, etc. only matter once there is an idea of what to produce or how to produce it. New ideas and innovation are critical to keep ahead of competitors —and protecting those ideas in the market place are patents. Not only must individuals have the freedom to create, being able to guarantee ownership of the idea incentivizes the effort, and that is what patents do.
A total of 1,914 patents were filed and granted in Montana between 1975 and 2019, according to a new study recently released by CommercialCafé which drew upon data from the US Patents & Trademark Office, exploring the importance of US innovation over four decades.
Montana is among the states with the fewest patents awarded. California is the highest.
Most of Montana’s patents were in Chemistry & Metallurgy, totaling 555, most of which were filed by Dr. Lloyd Berg, who holds the most patents in the state. The late Dr. Berg was formerly head of Montana State University’s Chemical Engineering Department.
The most innovative CPC class in Montana was Technical Subjects Covered By Former Uspc, followed by Basic Electric Elements with 430 and 356 patents, respectively.
Textiles & Paper was the least innovative section in the state, with a patent count of 11.
Nationally, the data for the past 44 years shows that highest patent applications falls under Physics, with 1.1 million patents, followed closely by Electricity, with 900,000 patents.
It used to be that most patents in the US were granted by individual inventors or entrepreneurs, but now more are being granted to large companies.
CommercialCafe also looked at patent applicability, which is different than a true count of distinct patents, in that it counts one patent multiple times, one time for each application across a different field of innovation. Fields of innovation refer to what are called “sections” in the cooperative patent classification (CPC) scheme. There are nine CPC sections, each including several “classes.” It is often the case that one patent claims an invention that applies across multiple sections or multiple classes within one section, or combinations of both.
The study states, “Historically, small U.S. businesses and widespread entrepreneurship have driven American innovation. And, over time, the infrastructure of U.S. innovation itself has undergone several stages of progress and adaptation. For instance, during the ‘Golden Age’ of invention — between the late 1800s and mid-1900s when the U.S. led the world’s industrial revolution — innovative activity happened largely outside of the corporate frame. At that time, world-changing ideas were given physical form by individual creators with financial backing from various investors. As the Harvard Business Review noted in a comprehensive 2017 study, the modern corporation research and development model had outweighed individual inventor patents by the middle of the 20th century. Then, by the year 2000, corporate assignees accounted for 80% of patents.”
The five most innovative U.S. corporations to date are IBM, General Electric, Intel, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. Among the top ten innovators in 2020 are Micron, Texas Instruments, Xerox, etc. It is interesting to track how dramatically corporations leading the pack have changed over a 45 year period, reflecting how dynamic free markets really are. In 1975 only IBM and GE were in the top ten. Others who have come and gone include Westinghouse, US Phillips, DuPont, RCA Corp, Caterpillar, Ciba-Geigy, Dow, Bell Labs, Motorola, Kodak, Qualcomm.
The five most innovative states to date are California, New York, Texas, Illinois and New Jersey. In particular, a total of 731,705 U.S.-based assignee patents were filed and granted in California between 1975 and 2019, which puts the Golden State in the lead for patenting activity.
Patent activity in the US peaked in 2013, when 144,072 patents were granted — the most in a single year.
About 51% of patents that were granted in the U.S., between 1975 and 2019, have U.S.-based assignees, amounting to 3,331,802 claimed inventions.
The highest patent applicability to date falls under physics (1.1 million patents). Within this field, innovation in computing and information storage has contributed significantly to increases in patent activity in recent years.
Regardless of the originator innovation has had a positive influence on economic growth. The study unveils “a strong positive correlation between patenting activity and gross domestic product per capita at the state level.”
That means, states the study document, “securing economic growth depends on investing in dreams of progress. As such, it’s reasonable to assume that the best way to invest in the dream is to support the dreamers. But, because humanity has yet to invent a way to predict ideas and inventors, the safest bet on securing long-term growth is to invest in education and innovation across the board.”
Nationwide, “patent applicability distribution” shows how innovation in different fields has progressed and concentrated differently in different regions.
The fact that California leads the nation for invention, points to the need for an area to be socially and economically open to the disruption that comes with new concepts. Innovation is most strong in populated areas with strong capital markets that can finance invention.
California stands out with the highest patent applicability for six of the nine main patent classification sections: human necessities; performing operations and transporting; chemistry and metallurgy; physics; electricity; emerging cross-sectional technologies.