Patents—the set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state or intergovernmental organization to an inventor in exchanged for public disclosure of an invention—have protected entrepreneurs and their ideas for more than a century. With the world's 10 millionth patent issued in June, a Kempler Industries report collected data from the US Patent and Trademark Office to examine which nations and US states are the most and least innovative, based on the number of issued patents.
The current patent numbering and examination system was created in 1836, the report noted. However, patent activity has surged in recent decades: In the last 20 years, the number of issued patents increased by 183%, from 122,975 to 347,642.
Patent applications are granted 49% of the time on average, according to the report.
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The US states with the highest number of patents issued per capita in the last five years are California, Massachusetts, Washington, Minnesota, and Vermont. The states with the lowest numbers of patents are Mississippi, Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Arkansas, the report found.
With Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs located throughout the country, some might expect the US to hold the no. 1 spot when it comes to patent filings, but that is not the case, the report found.
Here are the top 10 most innovative countries, based on the number of patents issued per capita:
- United States
- South Korea
The report broke down the most innovative companies based on the number of patents they received as well. Those that were issued the most patents in 2017 were IBM, Samsung Electronics, Canon, Intel, LG, Qualcomm, Google, and Microsoft—in that order—the report found.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- In the last 20 years, the number of issued patents increased by 183%, from 122,975 to 347,642. — Kempler Industries, 2018
- Taiwan, Israel, and the US were the countries that were issued the most patents per capita in 2017. — Kempler Industries, 2018
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Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.