Monday, June 29, 2009

Thomson Reuters Publishes "Innovation Hot Spots"

Today, the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters published a research paper, titled "Innovation Hot Spots: Mining Patent Data for Tomorrow's Breakthroughs," which tracks unique inventions published in patent applications and granted patents from 2003, 2008 and 2009 to identify technology areas showing the sharpest growth over the last five years.

The study identified three general areas as "hotbeds of inventive activity over the last 5 years: biofuels, telecom and bio-related nanotechnology.

Not surprisingly patenting activity in biofuels has exploded. In 2003, global patents on biofuels numbered only 341, and the patents were predominantly filed by Japanese companies (70% patented by Japanese companies in top 13 patenting companies; 31% of patents were filed in Japan). By 2008, patenting activity had risen by 550% to 1,878 patents. In the latest period (January 2008 to April 2009) the number of biofuel patents was 2,466. China has moved in significantly (31% of patents were filed in China); China shared top position with Japan (three companies) in the Top 10 patenting companies.

For telecom, the hot area is patents related to convergence (mobile/Internet computing and communication). In 2003, there were a total of 8,705 patents focused on the convergence between telecoms and computing, e.g. mobile phones with common Internet access features that enable the use of both cellular and wireless access networks via gateways and the like. By
2008, that number increased 290% to 25,283 patents. Within that category, cell phone
data/wireless network roaming is showing particularly strong growth.

One of the more exciting areas is the fusion of nanotechnology with genetic engineering to develop lab-on-a-chip systems. These devices integrate one or several lab functions on a single chip of only millimeters in size. Innovation in bio-related nanotechnology in 2003, as represented by global patenting activity was a small but well-established area (4,611 patents) led by US companies (70% patented by US companies in top 10 patenting companies; 48% of patents were filed in the US). In 2008, patenting activity had risen by 160% to 7,399 patents. In the latest period (January 2008 to April 2009) the number of bio-related nanotechnology patents was 9,842. China has not moved into the space significantly (only one Chinese company, listed 20th in top assignee list) but it is clearly seen as an important country to seek patent protection in (16% of patents were filed in China).

In addition to tracking the growth of patenting activity in each field, the report also identifies the companies who are most active in these spaces and the countries which they are seeking patent protection.

Read/download the report here (link)

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