Patent and Trademark Filings Worldwide

on August 3, 2010

Patent and trademark filings represent the pulse of innovation and entrepreneurship. We made this viz to help gauge and analyze that pulse, thanks to data from the Worldwide Intellectual Property Organization. Take a look- you may be surprised by what you find!

American innovation is still in full swing. In 2007 (the last year with full data), over 400K patents were filed in the US, overtaking Japan for the first time since 1970. Chinese patent filings have been rising as well, topping out at just over 200K. Chinese trademark filings are an entirely different animal, taking up over 50% of the total amongst the countries profiled here.

This makes perfect sense, given that Chinese companies usually compete on price rather than technology. Brands are a valuable commodity when they are the only distinction between competitors. Similarly, it makes sense that the technology heavy economy of the US would produce more patents than trademarks.

Also, see a little further into the legal side of this viz in this post from Tableau Software's resident legal eagle, David Weiskopf.


Patents are the way big corporations stifle the startups. Especially software patents are pure evil. If you think they "represent the pulse of innovation and entrepreneurship" you are a complete idiot without much of a working brain. The only time when they are activated is when a company or patent troll tries to kill their competition by throwing millions at a lawsuit to just force the smaller companies out of business or make their money that way because their business model sucks otherwise. Software patents are in all cases trivial; geeky nerds on attics come up with concepts that fall under big patents all the time without ever having seen 'those important and innovative inventions'.

I know at least 5 shops before 1997 that had 1-click shopping and any programmer doing e-commerce comes up with that in his underpants on the couch. And you probably think your patented VizQL doesn't fall under that; there are a lot of apps that fall under the patent which are definitely prior art. So your patent applications is just money-grubbing insurance for when your company dies of opportunism or bad management; you can always try to kill others. Software patents are evil and should be abolished for 1000s of reasons, but that seemingly smart people like yourself actually *dare* to say they stimulate innovation... Not sure what you were smoking.

Adam, thanks for the comment. There are definitely problems with patents and patent trolls who do more harm than good. But the patent system has also fostered and protected a lot of useful innovation.

The visualization itself deals with raw data only. You're welcome to download the data and tell a different story with it-- that's why we put Tableau Public online for free.