Patent value may drive return to U.S. prosperity, says new Brookings report

BVWireIssue #125-1
February 6, 2013

Despite the proliferation of “patent wars” in federal courts and the perception that the system for establishing, maintaining, and measuring patent value is broken (or in need of repair), a new report from Metropolitan Policy Program (Brookings) on the current state of invention in the U.S. reveals:

  • Despite the recent recession, the rate of patenting has been steadily increasing in recent decades and now stands at historically high levels. “Moreover, patents are of objectively higher value now than in the recent past and more evenly dispersed among owners than in previous decades.” At the same time, due to increasing global competition, the U.S. ranks ninth in patents per capita.
  • Most U.S. patents (63%) are developed by 34% of the population, who live in just 20 metro areas. The vast majority (92%) of U.S. patents are concentrated in just 100 metro areas, representing 59% of the total population.
  • Patented inventions are a “major driver of long-term regional economic performance, especially if the patents are of higher quality,” says the Brookings report. “In recent decades, patenting is associated with higher productivity growth, lower unemployment rates, and the creation of more publicly traded companies.” For example, by becoming a “high-patenting” metro area, a city could gain $4,300 more per worker over a decade. Research universities and an educated workforce help drive this growth.
  • Government-funded patents tend to be of especially high quality and help boost the productivity of small business as well as urban centers.

The complete report, “Patenting Prosperity: Invention and Economic Performance in the United States and Its Metropolitan Areas,” is available here.

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