'Patent Tigers' and Global Innovation (2020 Update)
42 Regulation 14-18 (WInter 2019-2020)
6 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 13, 2020
This short contribution updates through 2018 the author’s prior empirical study on global innovation trends as indicated by USPTO patenting data during 1965-2015. The principal trends identified previously have largely continued, with the exception of a slight universal decline in annual patenting volume in 2018. First, non-U.S. inventors continued to receive a slight majority (53% as of 2018) of all utility patents issued annually at the USPTO, with East Asia representing the largest regional group. Second, when normalized to adjust for population size, three smaller countries continue to outperform in terms of annually issued utility patents: as of 2018, Israel, Taiwan and South Korea occupied the first, second and fourth positions on a per capita basis. Third, these same countries continue to occupy leading positions internationally in terms of several standard innovation metrics, including (among other indicators) total R&D spending as a percentage of GDP. Robust investment in intellectual and human capital, together with other qualitative factors, suggest that these countries’ high patenting output principally reflects significant innovation inputs, rather than non-innovation-related strategic objectives.
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