Joff Wild

Close to 50% of all US patents are owned by a group of just 346 entities, research conducted by ktMINE has revealed. Published in issue 90 of IAM, which is now available to subscribers, the IAM/ktMINE US Patent 1000 Club consists of every company, NPE and institution that owns 1,000 or more active US patents.

Between them the members of the club control 1.6 million assets – of which 928,328 are held by non-US organisations. However, not surprisingly, the US is the country that is most represented in the list, with 168 entities. Asian companies make up 30%, with Japanese businesses dominating within this group. Meanwhile, European entities fill 18% slots, controlling over 214,000 granted patents between them. There are no representatives from Latin America, Oceania or Africa.

In terms of industries, electronics and semiconductors lead the pack, but the automotive sector represents about 9.5% of the list, followed by industrial equipment at almost 8% and medical/pharmaceuticals at just over 6.5%. Further down, about 4% of the entities represented are universities or other non-profit research institutions, 2% are aerospace and defence, and about 1% are entertainment or broadcast.

Non-traditional patent owners also feature. These include RPX, Rambus and Intellectual Ventures. As larger companies spin off portfolios, license technologies and leverage other mechanisms to monetise their patent portfolios, this group is likely to grow.

ktMINE also took a look at pending patent applications to get an idea of what an entity's future portfolio will look like. Increasing patent application activity relative to a company’s entire portfolio is a sign that spending on R&D is ramping up.

Notably, four Chinese companies – BOE Technology, Xiaomi, Huawei and ZTE – are in the top 10 patent portfolios with the highest ratio of patent applications to granted patents. As only five Chinese entities made it into our list of top patent filers, we can expect these entities to climb even higher up the rankings over the coming years. Other notable companies with increased application activity are eBay, Facebook, L'Oréal, Nestlé and Salesforce.

To create the *IAM*/ktMINE US Patent 1,000 Club list, ktMINE analysed patent publications to determine granted and pending patent applications in good standing. Granted patent data includes utility patents along with design and plant patents. Patents and applications that have expired, been abandoned or have been otherwise unmaintained are excluded from this dataset. The data pulled the listing was current as of 1st January 2018.