We’re getting more innovative, but are there restrictions in patent grants?
Based on data from WIPO, there’s a clear increase in patent applications (CAGR 4,5%, 1995-2011) (see figure 1). Moreover, there is an increase of patent grants as well (CAGR 5,4%, 1995-2011). Global population (CAGR of 1,2%, 1995-2011) apparently is not the driver for increased patent applications and grants. So, good news, seems that we are getting more innovative (if patents are still the best measure for innovation)!
What is striking though, is that there is almost no change in grant-to-application ratio (average of 42%). I would at least expect to see that with more applications, there would be proportionately more grants due to learning of application process.
Three possible hypotheses:
1. Application processes are getting more complex over time.
2. Lagging capacity at patent offices.
3. Artificial patent restriction.
I might be overlooking something entirely, but I feel that there is something going on here. What do you think?
Figure 1: patent applications and grants (click image to enlarge)
Figure 2: global population growth (click image to enlarge)