FAQ - Patent statistics

Questions

Answers

Why are patent statistics important?

Patent statistics can be used to ascertain the maturity of certain technologies or to identify technological trends. By comparing the number of applications with the number of applicants, it is possible to identify whether research activities are clustered or scattered. This can then be illustrated in a patent map.


What is patent mapping?

Patent mapping is essentially the visualisation of the results of statistical analyses and text mining processes applied to patent documents. Patent mapping allows you to create a visual representation of information from and about patent documents in a way that is easy to understand. It is an excellent tool for assessing large sets of patent data. Using bibliographic data you can identify which technical fields particular applicants are active in, and how their filing patterns and IP portfolios change over time. It is also possible to find out which countries lead in which fields.


Who uses patent statistics and patent mapping?

Patent statistics and patent mapping can provide invaluable information for corporate decision-makers, investors (venture capitalists, promotional banks), innovators (R&D), influencers (patent offices, policy-makers) and management.


How do I create a patent map? What are the steps involved?

Step 1:
gather
  • Define the data to include in the analysis
  • Choose a database that covers the required information
  • Define your query (dates, IPC, keywords, etc.)
  • Collect data; remove noise, i.e. irrelevant or insufficient information
  • Harmonise applicants' names
Step 2:
analyse

Carry out a statistical analysis of structured information such as bibliographic data, inventors' names, titles of inventions, etc. Do text mining on unstructured information such as abstracts, descriptions and claims

.

  • Export the data (full data set) to a spreadsheet
  • Define the purpose of analysis (e.g. technologies, application)
  • Add categories of information to documents
  • Run a statistical analysis
  • Check results
Step 3:
visualise

Visualise the results of your statistical analysis by creating your patent map. There are many different kinds of patent maps for various purposes and users. You can use various graphs to show the results of your statistical analysis, for example simple bar or line charts, area graphs or bubble charts. These are all forms of patent maps.


Where can I find information from the EPO about patent statistics?

Basic EPO production statistics such as filing rates by technical domain, residence of applicants and inventors, the most active patent filers, etc. can be found on the general statistics page, which contains a general breakdown by EPC contracting state (also published in our annual reports). An executive summary of the same statistics is included in the Facts and figures brochure.


Where else can I find patent-related statistics?

IP5 offices

Statistics from the IP5 offices

  • European Patent Office (EPO)
  • Japan Patent Office (JPO)
  • Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO)
  • National Intellectual Property Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNIPA)
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

can be found in the IP5 statistics reports. The reports also provide an overview of the key IP5 statistical indicators.

WIPO

The WIPO website provides patent and PCT statistics.

OECD

The OECD's work on patents covers various patent indicators reflecting trends in innovative activity across a wide range of OECD and non-OECD countries, with six main sections: EPO, USPTO and JPO patent families; patenting at national, regional and international level; patenting in selected technology areas; patents by institutional sector; international co-operation in patenting; European and international patent citations.

IP5 offices


Can I extract statistics from Espacenet?

The filter module in Espacenet offers basic filtering functions that provide statistical analyses and visualisations of query results on predefined categories such as publication countries, applicant and inventor names and countries and classification symbols. Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) can be used between the filter items to build more advanced filtering and statistical analyses. Filters may be applied on publication or patent family level.

More detailed information on how to use the filter module can be found in the article "Introducing Espacenet's new filter concept" on page 6 of Patent Information News issue 1/2019.


Does the EPO provide tailor-made data sets or statistical analyses or tools that automatically generate patent maps?

No, the EPO can advise users and guide them to the appropriate tools that will help them conduct their analysis of patent statistics and create a patent map. However, it does not provide tailor-made data sets or statistical analyses, and has not developed tools for automatically generating patent maps.

Watch out for virtual classroom seminars on patent mapping and statistics on the EPO's searchable events calendar.


What are the limitations of patent mapping and patent statistics?

Simply counting patents is often not enough, since their value can differ greatly from case to case. What you need to do is assess the importance of the inventions concerned based on significant indicators such as patent family size, the length of time the patent has been in force and citation information.

You should always compare the resulting information with other sources, such as market information and expert opinions. And it helps to be familiar with the patent grant procedure.


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