Patents and the Measurement of International Competitiveness
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Patents and the Measurement of International Competitiveness

New Data on the Use of Patents by Universities, Small Firms and Individual Inventors

William Kingston and Kevin Scally

This highly original book represents a major advance in the use of patents to compare countries’ technological competitiveness. It tabulates and analyses 280,000 United States patents from countries across the world over a ten year period. Specifically, these patents were granted to ‘not-for-profit’ entities (mainly universities and research institutes), firms with no more than 500 employees, or to individual inventors. For each of these groups, the book provides statistics and discussion on how long patents are kept in force, the extent to which they are cited, and how far inventions made in different countries are in fact owned in the United States.
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Chapter 4: Small Firm Patents

William Kingston and Kevin Scally


Of the total number of utility patents (not merely Small Entity ones) granted by the USPTO to US resident inventors in any year, roughly 15 per cent are assigned to US firms qualifying as Small Entities under the regulations. As with the other two categories, a Small Firm is eligible for a remission of 50 per cent of certain fees.1 The USPTO, along with other Federal agencies, applies the Small Business Size Standards established by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA definition of a Small Firm varies by industry but, broadly speaking, it depends either on the number of employees or on annual receipts averaged over three years. Where the number of employees is used as the criterion, the most common upper limit is 500, but some industries are allowed a higher limit; in computer manufacturing, for example, the limit is 1,000 employees and in aircraft manufacturing it is 1,500. On the other hand, firms in the wholesale trade are regarded as Small Firms only if their employee count is less than 100. The financial criteria are, predictably, more varied. The lowest limit is in agriculture where average annual receipts must not exceed three quarters of a million dollars, while the commercial banking sector is allowed an upper limit of $150 million in assets. The broad categories and bands are summarised in Table 4.1. Table 4.1 Abbreviated summary of SBA’s Small Business Size Standards Industry Group Manufacturing Wholesale Trade Agriculture Retail Trade General & Heavy Construction...

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