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This article examines global patterns of innovation as measured by receipt of issued US patents based on an annual listing of the recipients of that year’s issued patents published by the USPTO. The US remains the top innovator in the corporate, governmental, and academic sectors. However, second place goes not to the established economies of Europe, but to those of Asia. The leading Asian patenting countries—Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China—together receive almost three times as many patents as the total received by the four leading European countries—Germany, France, the UK, and Italy. Innovation is highly concentrated; fewer than 800 organizations received 40 or more US patents in 2013 and accounted for 62.3% of all innovation. Sixty-six of the top 101 universities receiving US patents were in the US, receiving 4,248 patents or 73% of the patents issued to universities. The leading US universities receiving patents were the University of California System, MIT, and Stanford. Only 10 countries had universities on the list, with six in Asia, two in the Middle East, one in Europe, and one in North America. Another group of important inventing and patenting organizations consists of government laboratories and nonprofit research institutes. Thirty-four organizations received a total of 4,227 US patents, which is 80% of the number of patents received by three times as many universities. The government laboratory/nonprofit research institute list is led by two leading Asian nonprofit research institutes—ETRI in South Korea and ITRI in Taiwan.
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Keywords: Companies; Innovation; National laboratories; Nonprofit research institutes; Patterns; Regional; US patents; Universities

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 8, 2016

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