Who owns the world’s patents?

24th March 2015

In our March Newsletter we commented on the need for greater transparency around patent ownership and launched a survey to test awareness of the issue and demand for a solution. The results of the survey will be published next month together with a proposed solution. We tested the idea today with Rosa Wilkinson, Director of Innovation, UK IPO.
This was her view:

Access to good quality information on patent ownership is a key enabler of a dynamic IP marketplace. An open data approach holds real promise for confidence building for IP traders and financiers alike. We watch developments with interest.

Rosa Wilkinson, Director of Innovation, UK IPO

One of the questions we are asked is who owns the world’s patents. One answer is to look at the distribution which is graphically represented below. This suggests that 77 organisations own 25% of the world’s granted patents and 773 own 50% of the world’s patents. Taken at this level it is not hard to imagine that, with a little cooperation, it is possible to establish a global register. We do not ignore the obvious fact that there may be 100,000 organisations who own the other 50% but as we enter an era of transparency, we can reasonably expect many of those organisations also to participate.

Patent owners

What we know for sure are two things. First, that the ownership information currently available on national patent registries is not accurate. Secondly, that we cannot reasonably expect the financial markets to engage with IP as a functional asset class unless and until we can establish clear line of sight to title and ownership.

Category: Publications