As the economy has struggled, the calls for America to pull itself out of its recessionary funk with an intensified commitment to innovation have grown louder by the day. Has America lost its R&D edge? Has the overall pace of invention slowed, and, if so, by how much? New figures regarding the number of patents granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) merit a look. Test your intellect against the following trends in intellectual property.
1) In total, the number of patents* granted by the USPTO in 2010 was:
A. Down by 17% from 2009
B. Down by 8%
C. Up by 1%
D. Up by 31%
2) IBM earned the top spot in terms of most patents granted, a position it has held for the past:
A. 9 years
B. 18 years
C. 27 years
D. 62 years
3) Among the companies granted far more patents in 2010 versus 2009, the biggest gain, at 94%, was achieved by:
B. LG Electronics
D. General Motors
4) U.S. companies collectively garnered 50.3% of patents issued, while Japanese firms were awarded 21.3%. Which country came in third?
D. South Korea
5) The UK hopes to boost innovation by creating a "patent box," which will:
A. Reduce the tax rate on IP-related profits.
B. Create the world's largest R&D center.
C. Eliminate caps on tech-related work visas.
D. Digitize its current paper-based system.
6) Among U.S. universities, the University of California system was granted the largest number of patents in 2010, followed by M.I.T. What university finished third?
C. University of Texas
D. University of Iowa
7) Within the auto industry, Fallbrook Technologies received the top score for "Industry Impact" by the Patent Board for its development of new:
A. Titanium body panels
B. Variable transmissions
C. Object-sensing microcameras
D. Adjustable cupholders
8) To cope with the backlog of patent applications, in December 2010 the USPTO announced that it would open its first satellite office, based in:
B. Palo Alto, Calif.
C. Cambridge, Mass.
D. Santa Fe, N.M.
9) Which one of the following research endeavors did not yield a National Medal of Technology & Innovation Laureate in 2010?
A. Adhesives known as "super glues"
B. Digital photography
C. Urinalysis tests
D. Carbon-fiber sports equipment
*Figures pertain to "utility" patents, the most common type granted.
Sources: IFI Claims Patent Service/Fairview Research (1-4); Reuters (5); Intellectual Property Today Patent Scorecard (6); Patent Board (7); USPTO (8, 9)
Answers: 1–D; 2–B; 3–A; 4–D; 5–A; 6–C; 7–B; 8–A; 9–D