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Insights from patent transaction data

Billy Beane, Managing Director for the baseball team ‘Oakland Athletics’ is largely credited for combining his baseball expertise with data analytics, to great success. He was the subject of a 2011 movie named Moneyball. Nate Silver, a statistician, shot to fame after correctly predicting the winner of 49 out of 50 states in the November 2008 US Presidential elections. What do both Billy and Nate (and many others in this field) have in common? They’ve effectively used data to establish patterns, to be able to predict results with a considerable accuracy.

Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

…which brings us to the topic of this blog post—the power of patent transaction data. Patents are often bought, sold, transferred under contractual agreements, infringed upon, and litigated in court. Individually, such transactions provide very little insight. However, if we were to study these transactions over a period of time, we can get useful information.

We analyzed assignment transfer related to patent transactions that were recorded by the USPTO in 2012, to establish as well as to understand patterns and trends across various industries. For example,

  • Digital data transmission, Wireless communications & devices, and Inkjet printers emerged among the top transacted technologies in 2012.
  • Silverbrook Research transferred a large number of patents to Zamtec Ltd. in a single deal in the second quarter of 2012, apart from transactions to other entities.
  • Google was a consistent acquirer of patents (2748 recorded transactions), followed by Facebook (2489) and Qualcomm (1115).

Now, these can be either perceived as mere numbers or help provide insights into specific growth trajectories, probable licensees, strength of industries or technologies, and more. A thorough analysis of this information can provide several data points to further lead us into the desired direction of analysis. Studying assignment transfers from Universities and Institutions, for example, reveals details about the kind of research being funded by government agencies and other non-government entities. There are several other ways these numbers can prove to be meaningful. Take a look at our Whitepaper Patent transaction trends for 2012 for a detailed report, or browse through the Infographic below.