Medical devices, non-smoking aids among top patent growth areas

China was the world leader in patent filings last year, followed by the US, a new report says

Computers was the biggest area for patent activity worldwide last year, but medical devices saw the most growth, according to a new report this week.

Inventors also spent more time working on electronic cigarettes and the common washing machine. And the report reveals that China, while being the overall world leader in patent filings, is poorly represented when it comes to the top companies in each field.

The data is from Thomson Reuters' 2012 State of Innovation report (free registration required). Using patent activity as a proxy for innovation, the report concludes that innovation is "on the upswing" after flattening out in the down economy.

The category 'Computers & Peripherals' accounted for nearly a third of worldwide patent activity last year, followed by telecommunications, automotive and semiconductors, Thomson Reuters said. That ordering was unchanged for the last four years.

There were 201,608 new computer-related patents filed worldwide, the biggest single technology area and up 3 percent from 2010.

The biggest growth was in medical devices, which accounted for 8 percent of patent activity and grew nearly 16 percent between 2010 and 2012. The most active companies in that category were Fujifilm and Olympus, for their work around medical imaging devices.

The category "food, tobacco and beverage fermentation" was a small one, but within it, tobacco and sugar are booming, with patent activity up 58 percent and 56 percent, respectively.

"By far, these two subsectors experienced the largest growth across all areas in our study," Bob Stembridge, a customer solutions manager and patent analyst at Thomson Reuters, said via email.

"A closer look at these subsectors reveals patents associated with dietary supplements and innovations associated with electronic cigarettes," he said.

Domestic appliances was another growth area, especially the subcategory "laundry," perhaps from advances to make washing machines more power- and water-efficient.

The report lists the top 10 "assignees" for patent filings in each of 12 categories, or industries. China was "severely under-represented" when it came to appearing in those top 10 lists, Thomson Reuters said.

"China, despite being the world leader in overall patent filing volume, holds 27 of the top 120 assignee slots, whereas Japan has 67 of them," Stembridge said.

The U.S. was second in overall patent filing volume, followed by Japan.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags legalintellectual propertypatentThomson Reuters

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?