Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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December 20, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Commercial Cafe report analyzes each state on patents issued

Related to the previous post, Commercial Café, described as a commercial real estate blog, recently published a study titled “Innovation in the USA: Mapping 4 Decades of Patent Activity.” To be precise, it is 45 years, but what’s a few years!

According to the study, the results were derived from data obtained from the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office in June 2020, and the analysis focused on patents for which the assignees are based in the U.S.

Some highlights are:

  • Not surprising, California leads the nation with 731,705 patents issued in the 45-year period, nearly double the second-ranked state – New York with 385,138. The other top states, in order, are: Texas (213,583), Illinois (184,166), New Jersey (161,218), Michigan (159,257), Massachusetts (148,944), Ohio (127,347), Pennsylvania (110,339), and Connecticut (101,438).
  • We could not find a specific ranking for Tennessee, but it is nowhere near the top 10. According to the analysis, patents issued in the Volunteer State during the period totaled 20,473.
  • How does Tennessee compare with our neighboring states? Four have higher numbers, four have lower numbers of issued patents. Here are their statistics: Alabama (7,921), Florida (60,357), Georgia (50,591), Kentucky (13,397), Mississippi (2,215), North Carolina (52,731), South Carolina (12,889), and Virginia (36,055).
  • On a national basis, patent activity peaked most recently in 2013, when 144,072 patents were granted – the most in a single year.
  • The highest number of patents issued 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.
  • The five most innovative U.S. corporations to date are IBM, General Electric, Intel, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft

In describing some of the factors that contribute to California’s ranking, the author writes: “Socially and economically open to disruptive new concepts, home to vast populated areas with strong capital markets that could finance invention, California also offers innovators access to well-connected markets and 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.”

For Tennessee, the top category is Human Necessities with 5,628 issued patents. The next eight, in order, are: Performing Operations and Transporting (4,865), Chemistry and Metallurgy (4,198), Emerging Cross-Sectional Technologies (4,064), Physics (3,469), Electricity (2,064), Mechanical Engineering and Lighting (1,814), Textiles and Paper (918), and Fixed Constructions (918). Ironically, the category in which Tennessee is ranked highest against the rest of the states is Textiles and Paper.

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