Patent grants decrease 8%, the steepest decline in more than a decade
BOSTON, February 13, 2023 – Anaqua has released its annual analysis of USPTO patent statistics, using Anaqua’s AcclaimIP patent analytics software. According to the data, indicative figures for 2022 show an 8% decrease to 347,408 in patent grants for the period of December 1, 2021 – November 30, 2022. Compared with 375,506 grants in 2021 and 390,576 grants for 2020, this represents the steepest decline in US patent granting in more than a decade, topping last year’s 4% decrease.
While the exact reasons for the decline in granted patents are hard to identify, lingering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, both economically and administratively, are likely continuing to impact the patent space. Additionally, economic factors over the past year—with fears of economic volatility—may have influenced organizations to keep tightening their IP budgets and reduce continuing prosecution of pending patent applications as a cost-saving measure. At the same time, companies across industries are still facing staffing shortages, which likely impacted internal corporate patent prosecution processes, as well as the USPTO’s examination timelines.
Despite the decrease in granted patents for 2022, the total number of grants remains above pre-2019 levels and demonstrates that there is still a healthy level of innovation amongst companies from the US and across the globe.
Digging into the data further, US-based companies led all countries for the total number of granted US patents (138,270) – a 19% decrease from 2021 – but companies in the APAC region continue to be well represented in the top five US granting countries, with Japan in second place (46,191), followed by China (24,409) and South Korea (22,020). In fifth place is Germany, the leading European country, with 14,639 grants.
In examining the most innovative companies, calculated by the number of granted patents, there were historical changes in the top five list. After IBM’s 29-year-reign, Samsung Electronics took the leadership position in 2022 with 9,290 patents.
Samsung’s top five percentage growth areas over the last five years include antenna technology, multistep manufacturing of plural semiconductor arrangements, electronic advertising technology, printed circuit casings and image data processing. Their top five increase areas by volume include device display technology, plural semiconductor arrangements, organic material-based semiconductors, control circuitry and data processing arrangements.
The remainder of the top five most innovative companies include LG Electronics Inc. (7,215), Huawei Investment & Holding Co (6,659), Toyota Motor (5,888) and IBM (5,353).
The data analyzed also included the top technology fields in 2022 based on most granted patents, with semiconductors in first-place – a jump from fifth place in 2021 – followed by virtual reality, 5G, artificial intelligence and software technology related to unauthorized user detection means. The rest of the top ten list includes medical related, program control unit, wireless, electrical vehicle, and network security technologies.
It’s interesting to note that semiconductor innovation was extremely prevalent across the globe in 2022 and is likely driven by the increase in 5G innovation. Virtual reality (VR) has also been a much-discussed topic for several years, with VR related to the metaverse making headlines in 2022, which segues nicely with the rise in patent grants we saw in 2022. This likely materialized from a larger number of patent applications related to VR, some of which were filed as early as 2017.
In our 2021 report, we noted the emergence of the first granted matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic since it began in 2020. With the 18-month delay in data, we’re seeing an uptick in related granted patents, including the development of vaccines, methods for predicting susceptibility to infectious disease, and methods for treating long disease, just to highlight a few examples. Clearly organizations continued to benefit from the USPTO’s COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. The program, announced in 2020, was implemented to help micro and small entities with the filing and prosecution of COVID-19 related inventions. The rise in COVID-19 innovations show it is keeping the promise of an accelerated examination process for these filings.
Our analysis shows that companies across the world, even while continuing to face challenges brought about from the COVID-19 pandemic, and potentially the onset of a recession, continue to innovate to solve our society’s most complex challenges.
Check out the infographic here to review the full data set, and learn more about Anaqua’s AcclaimIP here.
Methodology: The data for this report was analyzed by Anaqua’s AcclaimIP system, a patent search and analytics software tool leveraging public patent information from the USPTO. The metric used to determine innovative organizations is patent applications published and granted applications over a 12-month period between December 1, 2021 and November 30, 2022.