Patenting activity in nanotechnology by patent filings and patents granted at the leading global patent offices, by country of applicant and country of inventor, and by organisation including companies.
The patents analysed were collected from the database PATSTAT, version Spring 2014. That database includes patents from over 30 patent offices e.g. the European Patent Office, the US Patent Office and the Japanese Patent Office.
All patent offices worldwide tag nanotechnology-related patent applications using a special symbol of the International Patent Classification (IPC), namely B82Y. This special symbol is also part of the CPC (Co-operative Patent Classification). The core dataset of nano-related patents were selected using this special symbol (B82Y) from both the IPC and the CPC classifications.
All patent applications at the USPTO, the EPO and PCT (WIPO) classified as B82Y were identified in PATSTAT as well as the (simple) patent family to which they belong. From all these patent families, only patent applications at the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office), EPO (European Patent Office) and WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) were collected, thereby identifying USPTO, EPO and PCT applications. PCT applications registered at WIPO are protected under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international treaty that enables the filing of patents to protect inventions in the countries that are members of the treaty. Such use of multiple patent offices helps to diminish the bias that might be caused by the so called ‘home advantage’ effect, i.e. the propensity of nationals to file the first patent application in their own country. By analysing across these three patent authorities a less biased overview of nanotechnology patents worldwide can be obtained.
As the patent information is being collected from more than one patent authority, and given that the same invention might be protected in more than one of these patents authorities, the (simple) patent families are used to avoid multiple counting of the same invention.
The identification of patents by sector from amongst the nanotechnology patents was based in most cases on the combination of two strategies. First, all patents including in their title and/or abstract at least one relevant keywords for a particular sector were retrieved. Second, to ensure that the patents retrieved in the first step are truly related to the sector, a number of representative IPC symbols of the sector were selected from PATSTAT. For example, for the nanotechnology patents related to the health sector, the IPC symbols related to ‘Pharmaceuticals’ and ‘Medical technology’ were used. However, it was not possible to undertake this second step for all reports as for some (e.g. manufacturing) there were no appropriate IPC symbols.
Organisations and/or individuals are listed in patent applications, these being applicants and/or inventors. This information is used in the identification of companies, universities and other research organisations active in patenting.
The year of reference used is the year when the oldest priority of each patent family was applied (the closest date to the invention). The report uses ISO 2-digit codes for countries.
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