The CLEAN ENERGY PATENT GROWTH INDEX (CEPGI), published quarterly by the Cleantech Group at Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C. provides an indication of the trend of innovative activity in the Clean Energy sector from 2002 to the present. Results from the third quarter of 2012 reveal the CEPGI to have a value of 798 granted U.S. patents which tops the second quarter total of 786 and is the highest quarter since tracking of the CEPGI began. The third quarter of 2012 is up 199 over the third quarter of 2011. Toyota was granted the highest number of clean energy patents for the third quarter.
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The granting of patents by the United States Patent and Trademark (PTO) is often cited as a measure of the inventive activity and evidence of the effectiveness of research & development investments. Patents are considered to be such an indicator, because to be awarded a patent, it requires not only the efforts of inventors to develop new and non- obvious innovations but also successful handling by patent counsel to shepherd a patent application through the PTO. Thus, the granting of a patent is an indicator that efforts at innovation have been successful and that an innovation had enough perceived value to justify the time and expense in procuring the patent.
The CEPGI (shown below quarterly) tracks the granting of U.S. patents for the following sub-components: Solar, Wind, Hybrid/Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cells, Hydroelectric, Tidal/Wave, Geothermal, Biomass/Biofuels and Other Clean Renewable Energy.
Solar patents continued to gain, but still trailed Fuel Cell patents in the third quarter which continued to lead all other sectors. Fuel Cells patents were up 18 patents from the second quarter at 282 and were up 36 over the same quarter the year before. Solar patents, at 222, continued to dominate the remaining components of the CEPGI, leading Wind patents by over 50 patents. Solar patents were up 11 over the previous quarter and up 84 over the third quarter of 2011. Wind patents (170), were down 17 patents compared to the second quarter and up 57 patents relative to the same period last year. The wide gap between Solar and Wind patents over the last three quarters comes after Solar and Wind were tied in the fourth quarter of last year due to large gains by Solar. Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents at 81 rose 16 patents compared to the second quarter and were up 23 compared to the third quarter of 2011. Biomass/Biofuel patents (39) were down 10 compared to the second quarter of this year and were up 13 relative to the third quarter of 2011.
After a three year gap, Toyota took the quarterly Clean Energy Patent crown for the third consecutive quarter in the third quarter of 2012 with 71 patents – up 25 compared to the second quarter. Toyota’s patents were again primarily in Fuel Cells at 45 (up13) with an assist from Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents at 25, and 1 Solar patent. GE trailed Toyota by 15 patents for the third quarter this year –a bigger difference compared to last quarter. Wind patents again (50) led for GE followed by Solar (5), then Hybrid/Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cells and Other Clean Energy - all with one patent. GM took the third place spot for the second consecutive quarter primarily with Fuel Cells (29) followed by Hybrid /Electric Vehicles (6). Honda again trailed GM with two more Fuel Cell but five less Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents compared to its Detroit rival. Honda scored 31 Fuel Cell patents and 1 in Hybrid/Electric Vehicles. Samsung followed with one less Fuel Cell patent (20) and 4 more Solar patents (5) compared to the previous quarter. Samsung replaced Vestas Wind Systems in fifth place (which fell out of the quarterly top ten) by receiving 20 Fuel Cell patents and 5 Solar patents, followed by Mitsubishi with 19 Wind, 2 Hybrid/Electric Vehicle and 1 Solar patent. Siemens was down one Wind patent from last quarter to 10 and also had 2 Fuel Cell patents. Hyundai had 7 patents each in Fuel Cells and Hybrid/Electric Vehicles for a total of 12 with two overlapping these technologies. Panasonic continued to add to its Fuel Cell patents (9) and also had 2 in Solar. Ford rounded out the top ten with 5 Fuel Cell and 6 Hybrid/Electric vehicle patents.
As depicted below in the geographic charts, Japan again led non-U.S. holders of U.S. clean energy patents and individual U.S. states with 212, up 54 over the second quarter, and up 86 over the same quarter a year ago, to again claim the quarterly geographical clean energy patent crown. California again took second place for the fourth consecutive quarter with 82 clean energy patents, down 13 from the second quarter and up 24 compared to a year prior. New York moved into a third place finish with 63 Clean energy patents (up 9 over the second quarter and up 2 over the same period last year) and was followed by Germany (56) which edged out Korea by two clean energy patents. Michigan dropped several places in the rankings while dropping two patents to 50. Taiwan was next at 32 granted clean energy patents and Denmark followed with 15. Pennsylvania had 13 clean energy patents with a rare turn in the top ten and Texas and Canada had 12 to take the last spots among the leaders. Just missing the top ten were Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Ohio - all with 11 clean energy patents in the third quarter.
Trend lines by quarter through the third quarter of 2012 for the CEPGI and for each of the CEPGI components are depicted below:
(click the image for a larger version)
CEPGI yearly totals through 2011 are depicted below:
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