Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Economist Speaks - Clean Tech @ USPTO

Way Better Patents Clean Tech
On Tuesday our crack team of analysts attended the USPTO Clean Tech Partnership meeting. It proved to be an interesting gathering of the usual suspects - patent attorneys, agents, and companies interested in the Clean Technology domain. The meeting was also attended by patent examiners.  This is an important development for USPTO and the Green Tech Cognoscente.  Having a meeting to discuss the Clean Tech patentsphere that doesn't include the key luminaries who make it happen - the examiners who award the patents wouldn't be the corporate equivalent of an R&D meeting without any scientists.

We are compiling our notes and will be posting more in the coming days.  But one of the more important developments at USPTO is the arrival of the economists.  Finally.  Cue the applause.  Hopefully the arrival of the economists will help make patent data more easily obtained and more easily analyzed but I digress.

Way Better Patents will be releasing its Discovery and Analysis Report on the USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program later this month so we went to see what new information we could learn about the program.  (If you'd like us to let you know when the report is available, please send us an email at and let us know.) In the interest of full disclosure, Way Better Patents is a firm made up of patent data gurus, enthusiasts, and mechanics.  We look at patent data the way that Wall Street analytics firms look at market data.

Alan Marco, Deputy Chief Economist at USPTO, Demographic Information, stood in for his boss Stuart Graham.  He walked through some interesting statistics about green tech entrepreneurs.  We're waiting on copies of the slides but here are a few statistics worthy of being written down with a couple of asterisks and explanation points.

Green Tech entrepreneurs when asked, how important is each of the following to capture competitive advantage for your company's innovation answered the following:

The most important was first mover advantage with 77% ranking first mover advantage as the most important feature in achieving competitive advantage for their innovations.  (A shout out to Michael Porter at Harvard and his theories on Competitive Advantage.  Note to self, add Michael Porter's books on competitive advantage to the Way Better Patents IP Reading List.)

The second was patents very important with about 50% ranking it number two.

When asked why these firms pursue patents, the overwhelming answer was to prevent copying. 90+%  (While I hate the phrase and all it's adolescent connotations - DUH!!)

Patents also played an important role in funding negotiations.  What was surprising here is the roll they played in friends and family funding.  It struck me as higher than expected.

We'll be posting more commentary on the meeting in the next day or so, so please stay tuned.