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U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE
Patent Technology Monitoring Team (PTMT)
The patent system has long been recognized as an incentive for innovation in the U.S. free enterprise system. Often overlooked, however, is a second great benefit of the patent system: the enormous, continually expanding patent file. This file includes more than 7.8 million distinct U.S. patents, of which more than 7.2 million are utility patents ("patents for inventions"). These patents are classified and cross-referenced among the approximately 159,000 categories of technology that make up the U.S. Patent Classification System.
Patent law requirements for a full disclosure of invention (which is then published as part of a patent grant) have resulted in a unique assemblage of technological information. The patent file embodies the most comprehensive collection of technical information of its kind in the world. The information is presented in a manner such that nearly every significant development in almost all technical fields flows in a natural time-series sequence. It virtually welcomes monitoring and analysis.
In its own unique way, this file represents a national resource. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes the heavy responsibility not only to preserve, maintain, and improve the file, but, also to maximize its use for the greatest public benefit. It was as part of the effort to discharge this latter responsibility that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office established, in 1971, its Office of Technology Assessment and Forecast (OTAF). Although the work efforts of this organization have changed over time, much of its work continues to be performed by the Patent Technology Monitoring Team (PTMT), part of the USPTO's Patent Search and Information Resources Administration.
In its most general terms, a mission of PTMT is to stimulate the use and enhance the usability of the patent file, and to assemble, analyze and make available meaningful data about the file. To carry out this mission, the USPTO has assembled the TAF master database covering U.S. patents.
PTMT uses the database to generate statistical reports profiling various characteristics of U.S. patents. Periodically, PTMT also will produce general publications which examine patenting trends.
Two series of publications were published in the 1970 to 1985 time period which studied U.S. patenting in some detail. One series of publications, the Technology Assessment and Forecast Reports, included: reviews of highly active technological areas and areas experiencing high levels of patenting by foreign residents; profiles of the patenting patterns of the residents of selected foreign countries and U.S. states; reviews of the patent activity of the most active patent assignees; and comparisons of patent activity with economic activity in selected Standard Industrial Classification categories. In addition, several of the publications examined the patenting in high-interest energy technologies.
A second series of publications, called PATENT PROFILES, surveyed the U.S. patenting activity in specific technologies. Subjects of PATENT PROFILES reports include: Solar Energy, Microelectronics, Biotechnology and Telecommunications. A list of TAF (TAF is the predecessor of PTMT) publications and information on obtaining them is included in a subsequent section of this document.
The TAF database also is used to prepare custom data reports, tailored to individual needs. These reports, which are provided on a reasonable cost basis, subject to the availability of resources, are used by other government agencies and many private sector organizations.
Over 7.8 million United States patents, including over 7.2 million utility patents ("patents for inventions") have issued since the first was granted on July 31, 1790. To facilitate the use of this large body of technology, these documents have been "classified" (categorized) into roughly 470 broad technological categories (called classes) and approximately 159,000 specific technological categories (called subclasses) that make up the U.S. Patent Classification System. Together, these classes and subclasses form the structure of the classified patent file.
Copies of a patent are placed in more than one subclass of this file when the patent contains significant technology pertinent to more than one subclass. With such multiple placements or "cross-referencing", the patent file has grown to contain over 26 million U.S. patent documents (as of October 2007) spanning the entire technological spectrum.
Since a patent provides legal protection only within one country or within a limited region (i.e., a patent obtained in the United States conveys no protection outside this country), it is common in this age of the "international market place", for inventors to obtain patents to an invention in more than one country or region. As a result, significant foreign inventions are usually patented in the U.S. because it presents such an important market. Thus, U.S. patent activity represents not only U.S. technological effort but, to a large extent, foreign technological effort as well.
For example, the growth of foreign technological capabilities since the early 1960's has been mirrored by the growth, over the same period, of the share of U.S. patent documents which were issued to residents of foreign countries. In 1963, only 18% of U.S. patent documents were issued to residents of foreign countries. However, by the end of 1987, the foreign share had increased to 47%. In 2006, the foreign share was 48%.
This apparent interrelationship between technological and patent activity gave rise to the basic premise of the Patent Technology Monitoring Team - that patent activity is an indicator of technological activity, both foreign and domestic.
Patent data represent a comprehensive, in-depth technological activity information resource. The value of patent data is enhanced by the rarity of quantitative indicators which span the entire technological spectrum and which are available in time series going back to the very beginnings of the United States. Patents, perhaps, are the only such indicator. Consequently, the potential uses of patent data are many and intriguing.
It has been only in recent years, however, that these data have begun to be considered for use to any significant extent. This is the case because patent data, on any but a gross or aggregate basis, were simply not reasonably available to those who might like to use them. With the advent of TAF computerized database as well as other electronic patent databases, this inhibiting barrier to the use of patent statistics has, to a large extent, been eliminated and workers in many fields have been presented with a new tool.
As a relatively new tool, the parameters of appropriate use of patent data, the limitations and strong points, continue to be explored and are the subject of discussion and study. This is necessary and beneficial. It is one of PTMT's goals to advance and facilitate efforts to learn more about the legitimate implications that can be drawn from patent statistics. It is obvious that in the analysis of these statistics, many factors need to be considered. Among these are the variance between patents in importance and degree of invention. Also, the propensity to patent, as opposed to relying on patent alternatives (e.g., lead time in the market place and trade secrets) may vary over time, within an industry, and between industries. These factors and others may well affect any use of, or conclusions drawn from patent statistics. The more disaggregated the data, perhaps, the more important each of these factors becomes.
Yet, like the mountain, patent data are "there" and cannot (and we strongly believe, should not) be ignored. The data are becoming more available, more detailed, and more useable every year. In the final analysis, it cannot be denied that each patent represents, to some degree, a new piece of technology and, inferentially, some increment of technological activity.
Together (in hundreds, thousands and tens-of-thousands), patents reveal the "who, where, what, and when" about substantial amounts of new technology and technological activity. It seems intuitively obvious then, that clear trends in patenting, especially within a given industry or technology, must be capable of telling us something.
It may be, as some allege, that patenting trends are more indicative of the health of the patent system than of the health of technology. Or it may be that the trends reveal more about the shifts in domestic technological development than about the relative balance between domestic and foreign technology. On the other hand, perhaps they can indeed tell us much about where the U.S. stands overall or in any specific technology as compared to all other foreign countries or to any specific foreign country.
Most probably, patent data tell us something about all these things, in some mixture yet to be determined. It will require further investigation and study to establish, to any widely accepted degree, the true meanings of trends suggested by the patent data. We are confident, however, that the data's comprehensiveness and availability will stimulate continuing investigation and study.
Use of the data by the Patent Technology Monitoring Team and others for a wide variety of purposes continues to increase. For just as patents offer substantive technological information available nowhere else, so do patent data offer a unique indicator of worldwide technological activity -- an indicator which, wisely used, may permit new insight into the complex interactions of technology and the economy.
Many PTMT general statistical reports and materials are available on the Internet. A listing of those available reports and materials and their associated links can be viewed at: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/reports.htm. Some of these materials, along with other PTMT materials, are available for direct downloading at: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/data/.
Updated yearly, this report profiles U.S. utility patents originating from selected regions (patent origin is determined by the residence of the first-named inventor). For each of these selected regions, the report identifies U.S. Patent Classification System classes of technology receiving relatively greater and lesser patenting emphasis.
This report is similar to the "Activity Index Report," as described above, but it profiles only activity in utility patents having ownership assigned to a U.S. or foreign corporation at the time of grant.
This report (not yet available) profiles pre-grant U.S. utility patent publication originating from selected regions as determined by the residence of the first-named inventor. For each region, the report identifies U.S. Patent Classification System classes of technology receiving relatively greater and lesser patenting emphasis.
This report is similar to the "Activity Index Report, Pre-Grant Utility Patent Publications," as described above, but it profiles only activity in pre-grant utility patent publications having ownership assigned to a large entity U.S. or foreign organization at time of publication. Large entity organizations generally are for-profit organizations employing more than 500 employees.
Updated yearly, this report profiles U.S. patenting in 55 product fields (41 unique fields, and several fields that are roll-ups of the 41 unique fields) that are based on the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) System. For each product field, the report lists patent counts in the same format as Parts A1 and A2 of the PTMT "All Technologies Report." The report consists of two parts, a "fractional count" part and a "whole count" part, which count patents according to different methods.
This report is similar to the report, "Patenting Trends In The United States," but it provides separate totals for U.S. states and for all foreign countries receiving U.S. patents during the period. This report also provides "fractional" and "whole" patent counts. It omits information pertaining to patent ownership and does not include patents as distributed by their year of application. The report includes annual patent counts for each of the most recent 21 years.
These reports provide a detailed profile of patent activity in a specific technology. Some reports are updated on a fairly regular basis while other reports are updated less frequently. Individual reports are available for the following subject areas (the date of the most recent available report is indicated in parentheses) :
Parts A1 and A2 of each report display the number of patents granted over an extended number of years. Yearly totals are provided for the most recent 14 years. Part A1 distributes patent grants by year of grant and Part A2 distributes patent grants by year of patent application. The totals are broken down by origin (patent origin is determined by the residence of the first-named inventor), either U.S. or foreign. Yearly counts are shown for the 36 foreign countries receiving the most U.S. patents during the period. Totals are also divided according to general category of ownership, e.g., corporate-owned, government-owned, or individual-owned.
Part B of this report displays the national and international corporations, government agencies, and other organizations that have received the most patents during the time period. It ranks these organizations in terms of total patent receipts and profiles their annual patenting activity for the most recent 14 year period. Patent grants are distributed in two ways, by year of grant and by year of patent application.
Some reports additionally include listings of patent numbers and titles for each of the organizations that were assigned ownership of the patents at the time of grant.
The Patent Technology Monitoring Team (PTMT) administers the TAF computerized database which contains selected bibliographic data pertaining to U.S. patents granted since 1963. These data can be processed in a variety of ways and presented in several custom report formats to suit a diversity of purposes. The availability of this service is subject to the availability of PTMT resources. Cost is determined on a reasonable cost basis. Sample PTMT Custom Reports may be downloaded from the Internet.
The TAF computerized database containing data relating to the U.S. patent file includes, at present:
Data can be retrieved on the basis of any one or a combination of the factors listed above, manipulated on most any given basis and presented in a number of formats, e.g., lists, tables, graphs, and charts. This flexibility is illustrated in TAF (TAF is the predecessor of PTMT) publications, such as Technology Assessment and Forecast Reports and PATENT PROFILES, and by the sample custom reports available for downloading from the Internet.
This standard format, multi-part report uses many of the elements in the TAF database to provide a detailed patent profile of a specific technology or subject area. Information provided includes rate of patenting, country of origin based on the residence of the first-named inventor, category of ownership (type of assignment), specific assignee (first-named assigned owner), patent numbers and their titles, and names and addresses of "independent" inventors. There are four parts (parts A, B, C, & D) which comprise a complete report. Part A includes patenting activity percentages, and time series distribution by general assignment category and origin of patents. Part B is a ranked listing of organizations which displays counts of patents granted by both year of application filing and year of grant. Part C lists organizations alphabetically with patent numbers and titles. Part D gives the name and address of the inventors of patents assigned to individuals or unassigned at time of issue, and includes patent numbers and titles. Please note that parts C and D are run separately and are available only by special arrangement. This report can be tailored to specific needs. A sample TAF (TAF is the predecessor of PTMT) Custom Technology Profile report is available for download at the USPTO Internet site (see below).
This report profiles patent activity across all of the classes and subclasses of the USPC System, and gives specific patent numbers and titles. The reports may be limited to specific classifications. This type of report can be prepared for the patents of any organization or grouping of organizations, or for the patents granted to the residents of any state or country or grouping of states or countries. A sample TAF (TAF is the predecessor of PTMT) Custom Organizational Profile report is available for download at the USPTO Internet site.
The Patent Counts by Class by Year Profile Report shows the number of patents granted in each of the approximately 470 U.S. patent classes, the primary divisions of technology within the U.S. Patent Classification System. Yearly totals are provided for the most recent years. The report consists of two parts, one that lists patent counts by primary (called "original") patent classification only and one that lists patent counts by primary and "cross-reference" classifications with duplicate patent counts eliminated within each class. This report can be generated for specific organizations or populations of patent holders (e.g., foreign origin, U.S. origin, specific countries of origin).
The format of this report is similar to the PTMT Counts By Class By Year Report (viewable report file: cbcby.pdf)
The Activity Index Profile Report may be generated for a selected subset of utility patents. The report identifies areas of greater and lesser patenting emphasis by means of a patenting activity "index". Separate index values are calculated for each of the approximately 430 utility patent classes of technology which make up the U.S. Patent Classification System. Only primary (called "ORIGINAL") patent classifications are considered in this report. This report can be generated for specific organizations or populations of patent holders (e.g., foreign origin, U.S. origin, specific countries of origin). A sample TAF (TAF is the predecessor of PTMT) Custom Activity Index Profile report is available for download at the USPTO Internet site.
PTMT maintains a concordance between utility patent subclasses of the United States Patent Classification System and 55 product fields of the 1972 Standard Industrial Classification System. SIC product fields included in the concordance are presented in the following list. Each line entry in the list includes the product field title followed by the corresponding SIC codes.
LISTING OF SIC PRODUCT FIELD TITLE AND SIC CODE
By means of the concordance, custom patent reports, such as the Technology Profile Report, can be prepared based on patents associated with these Product Fields. Please note that there is only limited availability of custom SIC product field reports.
PTMT has developed the flexibility to prepare other custom format reports designed to meet the needs of a large number of users. These include: (1) Corporate Patenting Report where patents of the designated organization are given in numerical order, and (2) Mailing Labels (see "Inventor Mailing Labels" under "Other Products and Services" elsewhere in this brochure).
Sample reports containing selected excerpts are available for downloading from the USPTO Internet site as follows. For specific telephone number and address information, please consult the "Contact Information" section at the end of this brochure.
PTMT Custom Reports are generally prepared with paper as the output media. Some reports are available in hypertext web page format. In many cases, report data elements may be extracted and placed in files in one of a variety of formats (e.g., ASCII delimited, spreadsheet format, etc.).
Contact PTMT to discuss the type of information you need. A PTMT analyst will discuss information availability, assist you in determining the report content and format that best suits your needs, and provide you with an estimate of its cost. If the terms are acceptable and staff resources available, the report will be prepared and sent, usually within seven working days.
All Custom Reports are provided on a reasonable cost basis sufficient to recover incurred costs. These costs may vary widely -- from as low as $50.00 plus $10.00 for every 30 single-sided report pages and $25.00 per one and a half megabytes of uncompressed electronic file output. More complex or large-scale treatments can range in price to several thousand dollars. The preparation of specially tailored reports, requiring extensive professional time, programming and/or computer time, is subject to the availability of PTMT resources.
Contact information is listed at the end of this brochure.
Inventor labels containing full street addresses suitable for mailings (NOTE: AVAILABILITY IS LIMITED TO ADDRESSES ON PATENTS GRANTED PRIOR TO MARCH OF 2011) can be generated for inventors of U.S. patents for which ownership was unassigned at the time of grant. Labels can be limited to a subset of those inventors based on criteria such as the year of grant, the zip code of inventor residence, the U.S. patent classification, etc. Inventor label information can be placed in various electronic file formats, if required.
Includes concordance information between 41 unique SIC-based product fields and the USPC System as it existed at the end of calendar year 2005. The concordance also includes a product field entitled "All Others," that contains USPC subclasses not concorded to any of the 41 unique product fields. This concordance is used to generate the Patenting Trends In The United States Reports described elsewhere in this brochure. The file is in ASCII format suitable for database software and is available for download at the PTMT direct download location.
Listings of patent numbers according to their classification in the U.S. Patent Classification System can be generated in an electronic file.
Bibliographic patent information contained in the TAF database and used to generate the above reports is available for purchase on a variety of digital media.
Older TAF (TAF is the predecessor of PTMT) publications (Patent Profiles, Technology Assessment and Forecast Reports, and others) and products (Industrial Patent Activity Report) may be purchased from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Descriptions of these older reports may be viewed separately.
Other products available from NTIS contain patent data as obtained from the TAF database such as the "Statistical Abstract of the United States" (prepared by the Department of Commerce and the Bureau of the Census). Contact NTIS for a current list of their complete products and services.
Many selected PTMT statistical reports are available for downloading from the USPTO Internet site free of charge. PTMT reports that are available for downloading are either in Adobe ® Acrobat ® format (".pdf" file extension), in ASCII text format (".txt" file extension), or in HTML hypertext format (".htm" file extension). Links to available, free software for viewing and printing PDF files may be obtained by accessing the following page: ( http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/plugins/pdf.htm).
Please note that table data in some of the PTMT Hypertext (.htm) format pages can be directly imported into many newer software programs (e.g., newer spreadsheet software). Check your software documentation for details. The reports may also be obtained by contacting PTMT. For specific PTMT address and telephone number information and for Internet address information, please consult the "Contact Information" section at the end of this brochure.
Please note that there are some PTMT reports that are available only on the Internet (e.g., the various drill-down reports)!
Some general statistical Patent Technology Monitoring Team (PTMT) Reports are available free of charge, subject to availability. However, fees are charged for other selected reports, products, and services, as listed below, due to their large size and specialized nature. Such fees are intended to cover printing and distribution costs.
- SELECTED PTMT REPORTS
The following table displays the price list for selected PTMT patent activity reports and other various products, available from USPTO. Title Media Order Number Price PATENTING TRENDS IN THE UNITED STATES REPORT and
PATENTING TRENDS IN THE UNITED STATES-- STATE COUNTRY REPORT
CD-ROM EIP-3075-CD $ 25 U.S. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES -- UTILITY
PATENT GRANTS, 1969-2005 (also on the USPTO Web Site) *
CD-ROM EIP-3091-CD $ 25 U.S. GOVERNMENT PATENTING,
2004 (also on the USPTO Web Site) *
CD-ROM EIP-3092-CD $ 25 PATENT ACTIVITY INDEX REPORT, and
PATENT ACTIVITY INDEX REPORT, CORPORATE PATENTING, 2005
CD-ROM EIP-3035P-CD $ 25 BUTTONS TO BIOTECH, U.S. PATENTING BY
WOMEN, 1977 to 1996 - includes limited update
through 2002 (approx. 30 pages)
Paper EIP-3050P-PP $ 20 SELECTED TECHNOLOGIES REPORTS (variable lengths) Paper/Electronic File various $ 20 Issue Dates and Patent Numbers Since 1836 * Paper EIP-3140P-PP $ 5 Utility Patent Applications By Country of Origin Since 1965 * Paper EIP-3150P-PP $ 5 Patent Counts By Class By Year Report (each report) * Paper various $ 5 Utility Patent Counts By State, County, and Metro Area * Paper EIP-3210P-PP $ 5 OTHER GENERAL PTMT PATENT STATISTICAL REPORTS (variable lengths) * Paper/Electronic File various (some are free)
Please note that there are some PTMT reports and products that are available only at the USPTO Web Site and/or the PTMT direct download site(e.g., some of the various drill-down reports).
- DIGITAL MEDIA HAVING INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE TAF DATABASE
- (Prices and availability vary depending on the information wanted and available staff resources. Contact PTMT for further information.
- INVENTOR MAILING LABELS (PLEASE NOTE THAT AVAILABILITY MAY BE LIMITED)
- Labels are available at a price of $50 plus:
- $0.35 per page of paper output
- $0.70 per page of label stock output
- $ 25 per 1.5 megabytes of uncompressed electronic file output
- CUSTOM REPORTS
- Prices for custom reports vary according to the size and complexity of the requested report. Generally, report prices will be $50 per request plus $10 for every 30 single-sided report pages and $25 per 1.5 megabytes of uncompressed electronic file output. Custom report availability is subject to the availability of PTMT staff resources.
- SUBCLASS LISTINGS
- Price is $3 per requested subclass on paper. Additional $25 for electronic file output.
Electronic files generally consist of text files in ASCII format and spreadsheet files in LOTUS 1-2-3 ® ; ".wk1" format or in MICROSOFT ® ; Excel ".xls" format although other formats can often be accommodated.
Payment by check, made out to the Commissioner of Patents, is acceptable.
Prices are subject to change.
* Many general statistical reports and products, including those noted with an asterisk, are available for free via the USPTO Internet Web Site at the PTMT direct download web page location.
Questions regarding this report should be directed to:
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Electronic Information Products Division - PTMT
MDW 4C18; P.O Box 1450
Alexandria VA 22313-1450
tel: (571) 272-5600
fax: (571) 273-0110
address of PTMT pages at the USPTO Web Site: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/reports.htm
selected PTMT materials available for download at : http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/data/
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