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- this report was created with support from the National Science Foundation -
This report, prepared by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Patent Technology Monitoring Team, summarizes the patenting activity of U.S. colleges, universities, and associations composed of U.S. colleges and universities obtaining utility patents (i.e., 'patents for inventions') during calendar years 1969-2012. This report serves as an update to the previous PTMT report, U.S. COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES, UTILITY PATENT GRANTS 1969-2008.
Several statistical tables are provided that display the patent activity for all U.S. college and university institutions. Other statistical tables display the patent activity for each U.S. college and university institution ranked in the top 250 by total research and development (R&D) expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Academic institutions ranked in the top 250 for R&D expenditures in FY 2011 were identified from the National Science Foundation report, Higher Education Research and Development: Fiscal Year 2011, Table 13, Institution rankings ranked by FY 2011 R&D expenditures : FY 2004-2011.
Patent data presented in this report have been obtained from the USPTO Technology Assessment and Forecast (TAF) database that is maintained by the Patent Technology Monitoring Team. The TAF database contains selected bibliographic information for patents that have issued since 1963.
In calendar year 2012, the USPTO issued 253,155 utility patents, of which 4,797 (1.89%) were assigned to a U.S. college, university or association of U.S. colleges and universities. The number and percent of total patents assigned to U.S. academic institutions generally have increased since 1985 when only 594 utility patents, or 0.83% of the total, were assigned to U.S. academic institutions. For the most recent calendar years, the percent share of utility patents issued to a U.S. college, university, or association of U.S. academic institutions has held steady at just under 2.0% (see the table in Section 1B (Ownership Category Breakout) for percentage shares between 1969 and 2012). The 4,797 patents assigned to U.S. academic institutions in 2012 represent 4.3% of the 111,808 patents assigned to "non-government, U.S. organizations" for the year (see the table in Table of Contents Section 1B for percentage shares between 1969 and 2012).
Institutions that received high numbers of utility patents in 2012 include the University of California (361 patents), followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (216 patents), Stanford University (182 patents), the University of Wisconsin (167 patents), the University of Texas (141 patents), and California Institute of Technology (136 patents).
The University of California has been the top academic institution receiving utility patents each year during the 1992 through 2012 period. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been the second most prolific patenting university each year since 2005.
Patented technologies that have been emphasized by U.S. colleges and universities continue to include biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and the chemistry of organic and inorganic compounds. In 2012, disproportionately more patents assigned to U.S. academic institutions were in the following active classes of technology:
(see the table in Table of Contents Section 2 for a complete listing of emphasized technologies)
This report contains statistical tables that profile patenting activity by U.S. colleges, universities, or associations of colleges and universities during the period 1969 to 2012. The tables in this report can be grouped as shown below. Please note that some tables may be included in more than one group. Numeric identifiers, placed in parentheses, below, indicate the Table of Contents section of the report that contains the noted table. Listed tables are grouped according to the hierarchy of the Table of Contents.
Academic institutions that appear in this report consist of U.S. colleges, universities, and associations of U.S. colleges and universities that were assigned one or more U.S. utility patents between calendar years 1969 and 2012.
The selection of academic institutions is based on a search of patent assignee names that appear in the Technology Assessment and Forecast database assignee file. The assignee file is an alphabetical listing of more than 390,000 names of assignees whose names appear on the printed patents.
Only the first-named assignee on a patent is contained in the TAF database . This eliminates double counting of patents when distributions are based on assignee name. Thus, a search of patents assigned to academic institutions excludes patents with a first-named assignee that is not an academic institution, but with a second assignee that is a U.S. academic institution.
A comprehensive list of institutions selected for inclusion in this report is presented in alphabetical order in the table titled, 'Alphabetical Listing of University Assignees With Total Patent Counts For the Period' (Table of Contents, section 1C). Academic institution entries that have been newly included in this report since 2009 are shown below. Some of these institutions (e.g., UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE) may be components of larger academic institutions or systems that appear elsewhere in the report (e.g., UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND):
Note that a very small number of university name entries that were present in the 2008 report have been removed after it was determined that those entries should not be included in the report (e.g., All American University, Incorporated).
Careful consideration should be given to the use of patent data to assess the inventive activity of a particular component of a larger institution or statewide system. A search of patents assigned to the University of California--Los Angeles (UCLA), for example, might result in the identification of several patents with that assignee name. However, the assignee name that appears on other patents associated with the UCLA campus might simply show University of California. This situation occurs when the patent applicant or legal representative, who is responsible for providing the assignee name that appears on the patent, variously provides the name of the statewide system, a particular campus, or a foundation, institute, etc., within a college or university.
The lack of consistency in the format of assignee names can also pose a problem in identifying patents associated with colleges and universities ranked in the top 250 according to R&D expenditures in FY 2011. The top 250 institutions in the NSF survey are not necessarily ranked according to statewide systems. For example, the University of California - San Diego was ranked 6th in R&D expenditures in FY 2011, the University of California - San Francisco was ranked 7th, and the University of California - Los Angeles was ranked 8th according to NSF figures. As noted above, it is not always possible to associate patents with a specific campus or research center separately from the larger institution or statewide system to which it belongs. For purposes of this report, the R&D expenditures at all campuses of a given institution were consolidated into a single figure. Similarly, all patents associated with a given institution, its various campuses, known research centers, foundations, or institutes that are integral units of that institution were consolidated into a single patent count. No attempt is made to provide total patent counts for specific campuses or research facilities, and where they do appear, those figures should not be considered the total patent count for those campuses or research facilities.
Academic institutions in the top 250, based on R&D expenditures in fiscal year 2011, are derived from the National Science Foundation report, Higher Education Research and Development: Fiscal Year 2011, Table 13, Institution rankings ranked by FY 2011 R&D expenditures : FY 2004-2011. This NSF report, based on NSF's fiscal year 2011 Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey , collects the separately budgeted research and development expenditures reported by universities and colleges:
The term 'separately budgeted R&D expenditures' includes all funds expended for activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes. These activities are either commissioned by an agency external to the institution or are separately budgeted by an organizational unit within the institution. 'Expenditures' are funds actually spent by an institution during its fiscal year.
The names of academic institutions in the NSF report are shown in a table, 'Total R&D Expenditures at U.S. Colleges and Universities: Top 250 Institutions in R&D Expenditures in Fiscal Year 2011', available elsewhere in this patent report (Table of Contents section (1E)). The NSF report provides a ranking that includes specific campuses of statewide systems, such as the University of California at San Diego ('U. CA, San Diego'), which is ranked 6th in R&D expenditures in 2011.
However, it is not always possible to identify the patents associated with a specific campus; frequently, the name of a larger institution or statewide system -- not a specific campus -- appears as the assignee name on a U.S. patent. For example, a patent assigned to the University of California may or may not be associated with the San Diego campus. For some academic institutions in the NSF top 250, only patent counts for larger institutions or statewide systems can be provided.
The table, 'Total R&D Expenditures at U.S. Colleges and Universities: Top 250 Institutions in R&D Expenditures in Fiscal Year 2011' (table 1E in the Table of Contents), shows the assignee names on U.S. patents that most closely correspond to the academic institutions in the NSF top 250, and for which patent counts are provided in various sections of this report. No attempt is made to provide total patent counts for specific campuses or research facilities, and where they do appear, those figures should not be considered the total patent count for those campuses or research facilities.
The TAF database includes bibliographic data items for 5.4 million U.S. utility patents issued since 1963 and 483,000 non-utility patents issued since 1977 (this count excludes published patent applications). While every effort is made to ensure accurate data for all patents, the size and complexity of the database prevent achievement of a totally "clean" record. The following points are noted.
In many of the tables in this report, patent data are distributed by the year in which the patents were granted. In addition, many tables distribute patent data by the year in which each granted patent was filed (i.e., the year of patent application).
Distributing patent grants by the year in which they were filed can be useful in analyses of patent activity, It should be noted, however, that DATA FOR THOSE APPLICATIONS WHICH WERE FILED BUT NEVER ISSUED (HISTORICALLY ABOUT 35% OF TOTAL FILINGS) ARE NOT INCLUDED IN ANY TABLES IN THIS REPORT.
Data displaying patents, as distributed by their year of application, are of significant value since the date an application was filed more accurately reflects when the technology was developed. Additionally, fluctuations in patent data distributed by application date are much more likely to reflect changes in technological activity, since such fluctuations would for the most part be less affected by changes in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) processing such as occurred in years such as 1986 when the USPTO issued fewer patents than would normally have been expected due to a lack of funds to print patents. Note that a patent's "pendency" can be quite variable from one patent to another thereby affecting the date of patent grant. Such variation in pendency is determined by many factors, including USPTO workload (which varies between technologies), budget and manpower levels, patent printing schedules, etc.
Since the average time period between the filing for a patent and the issuing of the patent (i.e., a patent's "pendency") is about 32 months for utility patents, many of the applications filed prior to 2004 were still pending in December 2012, the cutoff date for patents included in this report. As a result, the patent counts displayed for 2004-2012 in the tables that distribute counts 'by year of patent application' will increase as patent grants are issued in later years.
As of 12/31/2012, utility patent data, as distributed by year of filing, are approximately approximately 95% complete for utility patent applications filed in 2004, 89% complete for applications filed in 2005, 80% complete for applications filed in 2006, 67% complete for applications filed in 2007, 49% complete for applications filed in 2008, 36% complete for applications filed in 2009, and 19% complete for applications filed in 2010; data are essentially complete for applications filed prior to 2004.
Use of spreadsheet software may facilitate analysis of the data contained in these tables. Users should note that many spreadsheet software programs (e.g., Microsoft Excel) can open these tables directly for data manipulation and analysis. Check the spreadsheet software documentation for details.
Some web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, versions 7 and later, will acceptably print many of these tables. Printing in landscape mode with a small text font is suggested. Also, importing the web page into spreadsheet or word-processing software may allow a user additional flexibility for formatting the tables for printing. Check the corresponding software documentation for details.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Patent Technology Monitoring Team, compiled these patent data and assembled this report. While this report was not directly supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), it is an update to previous reports that were produced with the support of the NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators Program.
Use and further release of these data, in whole or in part, are permitted. However, acknowledgment of the source of the data and absolution of the USPTO and NSF from responsibility for any opinions or recommendations expressed in any document using or containing the data are required. The following language is recommended:
Patent data appearing in this document were prepared by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Technology Monitoring Team. These data are an update to previous reports that were prepared with support from the National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Indicators Program. Any opinions or recommendations expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or of the National Science Foundation.
Questions regarding this report should be directed to:
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Electronic Information Products Division - PTMT
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, VA 22313
tel: (571) 272-5600
fax: (571) 273-0110
address of PTMT pages at the USPTO Web Site :
selected PTMT materials available for download at : http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/data/
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