NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Number Of U.S. Patents Soared In 1998

January 15, 1999

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a record 151,024 patents last year -- up an astounding 33 percent from the 113,720 issued in 1997, according to IFI/Plenum Data Corp. Companies which have no immediate use for a patent they have been granted are licensing them out in order to boost revenues, experts report.

  • For the sixth year in a row, IBM Corp. gathered more patents than any other firm -- a record 2,657 of them, up 54 percent from the previous year.
  • IBM received more than $1 billion in licensing fees last year from 1,600 different companies.
  • U.S. companies increased research and development budgets 9.7 percent last year to $143.7 billion, reports the Battelle Memorial Institute and R&D Magazine.
  • After the patent office several years ago began removing barriers which had made it difficult to obtain patents on software, the number of software-related patents skyrocketed from just 1,600 in 1992 to 17,500 this past year.

Patent officials report a 20 percent increase in the number of examiners in the past year. Average patent approval now takes about 23 months.

Source: Rodney Ho, "Patents Hit Record in '98 as Tech Firms Rushed to Protect Intellectual Property," Wall Street Journal, January 15, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues