Clean Energy Patent Growth Index

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 first quarter of 2012 reveal the CEPGI to have a value of 694 granted US patents which is the highest quarter since tracking of the CEPGI began, and is up 154 over the first quarter of 2011.

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 US patents for the following sub-components: Solar, Wind, Hybrid/Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cells, Hydroelectric, Tidal/Wave, Geothermal, Biomass/Biofuels and Other Clean Renewable Energy.

(click the image for a larger version)

The components breakdown of the CEPGI shows Fuel Cells to be down 19 patents relative to the 4th quarter of last year at 232 and being down 18 relative to the year before. Granted Solar patents (188) once again topped the remaining components of the CEPGI, and its closest competitor, Wind (157), by 31. Solar and Wind were tied the previous quarter at 143. This quarter, Wind was up by 14 (to 157) and Solar up by 45. Both also greatly exceeded the results of the first quarter of 2011 with Wind topping the previous year by 71 and Solar up 50. Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents (62) were up two relative to the 4th quarter and up 24 as compared to a year prior. Biomass/Biofuel patents (36) were up 2 from the 4th quarter and more than doubled relative to the 1st quarter of 2011. Hydroelectric patents (5) were up four compared to the quarter of a year prior and down one as compared to the 4th quarter. Tidal patents were up six at 22 from the 4th quarter and up 13 over the year before.

Toyota emerged to take the quarterly Clean Energy Patent crown for the first time since 2009 in the first quarter of 2011 with 49 patents. Toyota’s patents were primarily in Fuel Cells at 35 with an assist from Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents at 14 and a Biofuel patent. The leader for 2011, GE, followed with 33 patents (30 in Wind, 2 Solar, and 1 each in Hybrid/Electric Vehicles and Hydroelectric. Vestas Wind Systems moved into third with 30 patents – all in Wind. General Motors slipped to fourth with 28 patents – all in Fuel Cells except four Hybrid/Electric Vehicle and one Solar patent. Electronics giant Samsung was in fifth with 17 Fuel Cells patents and five more in Solar. One-time leader Honda had 21 patents – again all in Fuel Cells except a single Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patent. Siemens took the seventh spot on the strength of 13 Wind patents and a pair of patents for Fuel Cells. Ford and Mitsubishi tied with 11 patents. Ford’s patents were in Hybrid/Electric Vehicles (7), Fuel Cells (3), and Biofuels (1). Mitsubishi picked up its patents in Wind (5), Solar (5), and Hybrid/Electric Vehicles. Hyundai rounded out the top ten with 10 patents of its own (6 for Hybrid/Electric Vehicles, 5 for Fuel Cells, and 1 for Biofuels).

As depicted below in the geographic charts, Japan was the first quarter leader among non-US holders of US clean energy patents and the individual US states with 150, up 17 over the fourth quarter, and up 19 over the same quarter a year ago, to again claim the quarterly geographical clean energy patent crown. California was in second place for the second consecutive quarter at 70 clean energy patents, down 9 from the fourth quarter and up 11 compared to a year prior, leading Germany with 51 patents, which has seen large increases over the last year - up 14 from last quarter and up 37 against the same time period in 2011. Michigan followed with 49 patents (down 1 over the fourth quarter and down 3 over the year before) trailed by New York with 47, down 23 and up 12 compared to last quarter and the year prior, respectively. Korea and Denmark had 45 and 32 clean energy patents, respectively. Taiwan had 28 while New Jersey (16), Texas (15) Massachusetts (14), Connecticut (12), France (11) and Delaware (10) all had clean energy patents in the teens.

For other findings, visit the Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C. website.

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