Patent And Trademark Trends 2011: Thomson Reuters Evaluates Corporate And Industry-Specific Innovation

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 08:58

Innovation is viewed by many as the lynchpin of global economic prosperity. Political and governmental speeches from around the world reference “innovation” as essential to overcoming financial crises, creating jobs and solving humanitarian challenges. U.S. President Obama, in his 2011 State of the Union address, said,

The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. What we can do – what America does better than anyone else – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We’re the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It is how we make our living.

President of the European Commission Innovation Union Jose Manuel Durao Barroso at the Innovation Convention in Brussels in December 2011 said,

Innovation is the cornerstone of the Europe 2020 Strategy, our European blueprint to get the economy back on track over the course of the decade. Innovation is a cross-cutting way of equipping all sectors of our economy to be more competitive. It is indeed about turning new ideas into growth, prosperity, jobs and well-being.

From The World Economic Forum 2012 (DAVOS), there were 35 instances of “innovation” used in the program booklet. In one session titled “Innovation Ecosystem 2.0,” with participants including Director General Francis Gurry of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the discussion covered

…[t]he movement of innovation from a corporate initiative for creating and realizing value to a national phenomenon on how ‘a country expresses and develops more innovation capabilities. In the current era innovation is very much on the table. At least 50 countries now have national innovation agencies and chief innovation officers responsible for driving a national innovation strategy and the stewardship process supporting the strategy.’

In all corners of the earth, executives, policy makers, government officials, politicians, teachers, entrepreneurs and so many others are talking about their hope for innovation.

The topic is of equal interest to Thomson Reuters, as we have been tracking corporate and industry-specific innovative activity for several years. Recently, we released two reports: 2011 State of Innovation: Twelve Key Technology Areas and their States of Innovation and 2011 Trademark Report: Trademark Activity, Evolution and Important Changes, which track patent and trademark activity in key technology areas and economies around the world, using the Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index® (DWPISM) database and SAEGIS on SERION™ trademark research system.

The research showcases 12 technology areas and profiles their innovation activity as measured through patent analysis. This annual report provides insight into which industries are most active, how their 2011 activity compares to 2010 (where the data is available) and where the areas of greatest growth (and decline) lie. The report also highlights the top assignees across three geographic regions: North America (predominantly the U.S.), Europe and Asia. The report provides insightful data points that benchmark innovation activity.

Some key findings include the following:

  • The largest year-over-year increases by technology area were Domestic Applications and Medical Devices, both of which jumped by 12 percent.
  • Aerospace was down overall from 2010 to 2011; however, the category of Propulsion Plants increased by 202 percent.
  • The Automotive sector saw the largest growth in the area of Alternate-Powered Vehicles.
  • Biotechnology is a new category for 2012, as the Thomson Reuters editorial team has seen significant growth in this area, and it warrants inclusion in this report; it replaces Agrochemicals and Agriculture, a category with less innovative activity.
  • The subcategory Antiperspirants within Cosmetics increased by 22 percent year over year, and L’Oreal® continues to lead the world in cosmetic makeup activity.
  • Domestic Appliances and Medical Devices were the only two industries that saw growth in all areas in 2011; the most substantial increases occurred in the Household Cleaning and Medical Aids and Oral Administration sectors, which increased 16 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from 2010.
  • There was a 42 percent increase in Tobacco innovation within the Food, Tobacco and Beverage Fermentation industry.
  • Petroleum had declines in all areas except Petroleum & Gas Exploration, Drilling, Production and Processing, which saw an 11 percent bump year over year.
  • The area of Inorganics within Pharmaceuticals and Discrete Devices within Semiconductors both increased by 31 percent – the only subsectors to grow within Pharmaceuticals and Semiconductors, respectively.

Analysis was conducted by the Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property (IP) Services team, providers of expert research, analysis and consulting services for corporations, law firms and governments around the world. You will find the free, complete reports at 2011 State of Innovation: Twelve Key Technology Areas and their States of Innovation and the trademark report at 2011 Trademark Report: Trademark Activity, Evolution and Important Changes.

David Brown is President of IP Solutions, a Thomson Reuters business.