There is broad support in the United States for faster economic growth--a goal that ultimately depends on boosting labor productivity. In the long run, that requires more innovation, a big component of which comes from private research and development (R&D). But what, if anything, can countries do to increase domestic innovation?
If technology is advancing crazy fast, why aren’t those advances showing up in the broader productivity and economic growth numbers? Or as economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Daniel Rock, and Chad Syverson describe this mystery in their 2017 paper “Artificial Intelligence and the Modern Productivity Paradox: A Clash of Expectations and Statistics:”
Mitch Hungerpiller thought he had a first-class solution for mail that gets returned as undeliverable, a common problem for businesses that send lots of letters. But the process he helped develop and built his small Alabama technology company around has resulted in a more than decadelong fight with the U.S. Postal Service, which says his solution shouldn't have been patentable.
The increase in U.S. patents comes as the U.S. and China are embroiled in a trade war with a sticking point over Chinese firm’s accessing the intellectual property of U.S. tech companies. The report noted the increase in patents also marks a shift in how tech companies are operating in China. As one example, the report pointed to Huawei, which has beefed up its internal research and development as it aims to expand around the globe.
As it has for the past quarter century, IBM today topped the charts for U.S. patent holders, with 9,100 patents granted in 2018. This is the 26th consecutive year that IBM has claimed the number one spot on the annual list of U.S. patent recipients.
Patents--rights that governments grant to inventors for new inventions--pervade the modern world. The US alone grants about 300,000 of them annually, mostly for components of, or methods relating to, larger end products. Your smartphone, for example, contains thousands of patented features; but even many seemingly simpler items, such as cosmetics, often contain one or more.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) recognized a milestone of human ingenuity this week that perhaps even the Founding Fathers’ never anticipated: granting the 10 millionth patent. The Founding Fathers who drafted the Constitution understood that strong, enforceable inventor rights are necessary “[t]o promote the progress of science and useful arts,” and went on to establish the U.S. patent system in 1790. Since then, intellectual property protections have been the driver of America’s unique culture of innovation.
No company has been more prolific with patents than IBM. It received 9,043 patents in 2017, marking its 25th consecutive year of dominating the patent rankings -- a fact IBM is not bashful about sharing. This year, it is on pace to top 10,000 patents, according to projections provided to CNNMoney by IFI Claims.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) yesterday issued its ten millionth patent, for a laser detection system. The patent, called “Coherent ladar using intra-pixel quadrature detection”, was granted to technology and innovation company Raytheon and was invented by Raytheon principal engineering fellow Joseph Marron.
The next wave of technological innovation is shaping up differently. China’s rulers have identified the industries they want to dominate this century, from robotics to biotechnology and artificial intelligence, or AI. Chinese firms with a project in those fields don’t have to sweat through pitches to venture capitalists: government coffers are open.