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  • Patenting in the Rocky Mountain Region

    The Rocky Mountain region, home to the Western frontier spirit, is no stranger to innovation.  As we see from the map, Boise leads the region for producing the most patents.  But we also see hotbeds of innovation surrounding Denver, Colorado – including Englewood, Fort Collins and Boulder – and Salt Lake City, Utah – including Provo and Orem. Overland Park, Kansas, home of Sprint’s corporate headquarters, and Omaha, Nebraska, are also regional centers of innovation.

    Although the city of Denver has fewer total patents than Boise, the state of Colorado leads the region with the most patents produced in recent years.  Utah has also seen a recent rise in patented innovation.

    Boise’s innovative prominence is led by Micron Technology, which ranks first among the top 10 patent-producing assignees in the Rocky Mountain region. Two entities under the Sprint Corporation (Sprint Communications and Sprint Spectrum) are also key producers of patented innovation. The prominence of information technology and telecommunications is evident among the top patenting firms, including EchoStar Technologies, Level 3 Communications and CenturyLink. The top patent producers also include the University of Utah, showing the relative importance of academic-led research to the region.

    The number of forward citations a patent receives is indicative of its value and influence on future innovation. Highly cited patents (those having 100+ citations) are particularly influential. Every state in the Rocky Mountain region has contributed some highly-cited patents across a diverse range of sectors. Despite lower overall patent production, Kansas generates a significant number of highly cited patents across diverse sectors, including in electrical engineering, instruments and mechanical engineering.  Similarly, Colorado is the source for some of the region’s most influential patents in electrical engineering, instruments and design.

    These observations indicate a strong level of valuable patenting activity in the Rocky Mountain region, spread across several states and a diverse range of technologies.


    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Rocky Mountain Regional Office is located in Denver, Colorado and serves Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.  The goal of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office is to promote innovation and stimulate the economy by connecting entrepreneurs to government resources, supporting students and teachers through our STEM education programs, gathering feedback from regional stakeholders, and recruiting diverse talent from the region. For more information, see

    Data for this post was derived from the PatentsView website and database:



  • Patenting in the Midwest Region

    Historically, the Midwest has been an industrial powerhouse in the United States. As we see from the map, patent activity is strong throughout all the states of the Midwest region. The top patent-producing entities are located in the vicinity of Detroit, Chicago and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Still, the map shows additional innovation hotspots in St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.  

    Patent production in the Midwest states has been fairly consistent between 2013 and 2017, with the notable exception of Michigan which experienced a sharp increase in patenting after 2014. This growth has been driven, in part, by increased patenting by Ford Global Technologies in Dearborn. Michigan is also consistently the region’s top patent producing state, followed by Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio.

    Looking at the top patent-producing assignees, we see Michigan-based General Motors and Ford dominating, with Boeing and 3M not far behind. These four companies consistently lead patent production in the region.  The remaining top patent assignees reflect a diverse range of industries: Proctor & Gamble in consumer goods, Caterpillar in equipment manufacturing, Monsanto in agriculture and Medtronic in medical devices. 

    The number of forward citations a patent receives is indicative of its value and influence on future innovation. Highly cited patents (those having 100+ citations) are particularly impactful. The most influential patents originating from the Midwest region involve instrument technology. Ohio generates, by far, the most highly cited patents, including those for instrument technology but also those related to mechanical and electrical engineering. 

    These observations are reflective of the Midwest’s strong industrial heritage and its drive to innovate.


    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Midwest Regional Office is located in Detroit, Michigan and serves Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  As the first USPTO regional office (opened July 2012), the goal of the Midwest Regional Office is to promote innovation and stimulate the economy by connecting entrepreneurs to government resources, supporting students and teachers through our STEM education programs including professional development for teachers, gathering feedback from regional stakeholders, and recruiting diverse talent from the region. For more information, see

    Data for this post was derived from the PatentsView website and database:

  • Patents Used in Patent Office Rejections as Indicators of Value

    Christopher Anthony Cotropia, University of Richmond - School of Law and David L. Schwartz, Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

    The economic literature emphasizes the importance of patent citations, particularly forward citations, as an indicator of a cited patent’s value. Studies have refined which forward citations are better indicators of value, focusing on examiner citations for example. We test a metric that arguably is closer tied to private value—the substantive use of a patent by an examiner in a patent office rejection of another pending patent application. This paper assesses how patents used in 102 and 103 rejections relate to common measures of private value—specifically patent renewal, the assertion of a patent in litigation, and the number of patent claims. We examine rejection data from U.S. patent applications pending from 2008 to 2017 and then link value data to rejection citations to patents issued from 1999 to 2007. Our findings show that rejection patents are independently, positively correlated with many of the value measurements above and beyond forward citations and examiner citations.

    The Sankey diagram, above, shows the relationship between forward citation and 102 and 103 rejection use, depicting a shuffle amongst quartiles from the citation of a patent to its use in a rejection. Even patents in the lowest quartile of citation appear in the highest quartile of actual rejections, and vice versa, emphasizing the new and valuable information rejection use provides.

    Download paper at:

  • Patent Citation Spectroscopy (PCS): Online retrieval of landmark patents based on an algorithmic approach

    Jordan A. Comins[i],*,‡, Stephanie A. Carmack[ii], and Loet Leydesdorff[iii]

    One essential component in the construction of patent landscapes in biomedical research and development (R&D) is identifying the most seminal patents. Hitherto, the identification of seminal patents required subject matter experts within biomedical areas. In this brief communication, we report an analytical method and tool, Patent Citation Spectroscopy (PCS), for the online identification of landmark patents in user-specified areas of biomedical innovation. Using USPTO data and the PatentsView API, PCS mines the cited references within large sets of patents and provides an estimate of the most historically impactful prior work.

    The figure shows the results of PCS applied to a broad set of patents dealing with cholesterol. PCS mined through 11,326 cited references and identified the seminal patent as that for Lipitor, the groundbreaking medication for treating high cholesterol as well as the pair of patents underlying Repatha. The cases suggest that PCS provides a useful method for identifying seminal patents in areas of biomedical innovation and therapeutics. The interactive tool is free-to-use at:

    Figure: Image of the PCS web-application at In this demo, the user queried patents containing either the key terms “RNAi” or “siRNA” or the phrases “interference RNA” or “RNA interference.” The system then searched the titles and abstracts of US patents within the PatentsView database for these search terms. The result was 1,217 granted US patents containing 4,065 unique patent references. The patent references were analyzed via PCS to produce a visualization of the spectrum of impactful historical patent references. PCS identified the most important historical patent for this field: US6506559 – Genetic inhibition by double-stranded RNA by Fire et al.  (2003), a finding that converges with independent reports from subject matter experts (Schmidt et al., 2007).

    < preprint version at >


    [i] *corresponding author; Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA, United States;

    The author's affiliation with The MITRE Corporation is provided for identification purposes only, and is not intended to convey or imply MITRE's concurrence with, or support for, the positions, opinions or viewpoints expressed by the author. Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited Case #17-0951.

    [ii] National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD, 21224

    [iii] Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR), University of Amsterdam, PO Box 15793, 1001 NG Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Social Network Analysis using PatentsView and NetworkX

    The USPTO's Office of Chief Economist developed the InventorAnalyze package for bibliometric (and other) researchers studying the social networks of inventors, i.e., the community of inventors who collaborate on jointly invented patents. The InventorAnalyze package combines disambiguated patent data from the United States Patent and Trademark Office's PatentsView project with social network analysis tools from the Los Alamos National Laboratory's NetworkX library.  PatentsView uses a statistical algorithm for disambiguating patent inventor names, so that multiple variants of a name are assigned a common identifier and distinct inventors having a similar name are assigned separate identifiers. Such entity resolution is critical to identifying inventors and their collaborators over millions of distinct patents.

    By importing disambiguated inventor data from PatentsView into NetworkX, InventorAnalyze enables researchers to more accurately study the entire inventor social network. Moreover, the package facilitates analysis of specific inventor network subgraphs generated via PatentsView API-based queriesInventorAnalyze then leverages NetworkX functionality to study the structure, dynamics, and functions of these inventor subnetworks.

    The team provides two examples of the type of inventor social network analysis facilitated by InventorAnalyze. The first example demonstrates some of the network-level analysis capabilities that InventorAnalyze facilitates. The second example shows the potential information that network-based metrics can convey about individual inventors and their influence.

    The package is a Python script authored by Jesse Frumkin at USPTO and available on GitHub. The full report is here.

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