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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
JAMES 0. EASTLAND, Mississippt, Chairmen ESTES KEFAUVER, Tennessee
ALEXANDER WILEY, Wisconsin OLIN D. JOHNSTON, South Carolina
WILLIAM LANGER, North Dakota THOMAS C. HENNINGS, JR., Missouri WILLIAM E, JENNER, Indlana JOHN L. MCCLELLAN, Arkansas
ARTHUR V, WATKINS, Utah PRICE DANIEL, Texas
EVERETT MCKINLEY DIRKSEN, Mlinols JOSEPH O. O'MAHONEY, Wyoming
HERMAN WELKER, Idaho MATTHEW M. NEELY, West Virginia JOHN MARSHALL BUTLER, Maryland
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PATENTS, TRADEMARKS, AND COPYRIGHTS
JOSEPH O. O'MAHONEY, Wyoming, Chairman
MARCOS A. HOLLABAUCH, Counsel
In carrying out its responsibility to make a broad survey of the atent statutes, the subcommittee has undertaken to determine the acts as to how the patent system is actually working in practice. The logical starting point for such an inquiry is the compilation of available data showing who obtains and owns the vast number of unexpired patents in existence today. Accordingly, at the subcommittee's request, the Patent Office has compiled the data and information presented herein showing the number and distribution of patents unexpired on December 31, 1955, which were issued to corporations, and other related information. The work of compilation was done under the direction of P. J. Federico, examiner-in-chief in the Patent Office, who also prepared the report.
The sources of the information and the manner in which it was compiled is carefully explained in the report. The report is substantially limited to the presentation of the data.
The subcommittee is indebted to the Patent Office and Mr. Federico for the preparation of this report.
Joseph C. O’MAHONEY, Chairman, Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate.
DECEMBER 29, 1956.
Additional copies available from:
Washington, D. C. Price 1 5 (t
numbers of patents..
9. Patenta issued to corporations in 1955.-
Lists of corporations and numbers of patents issued to them in 1939–55..
I. Corporations with over 100 patents...
II. Partial list of corporations with 75 to 100 patents.
III. Some corporations with less than 75 patents..
DISTRIBUTION OF PATENTS ISSUED TO
1. OBJECT OF REPORT
The main object of this report is to present data with respect to the number and distribution of patents, unexpired on December 31, 1955, which were issued to corporations. Discussion is limited to description of the data and the manner in which the figures were obtained. The data presented relate primarily to the two questions which were asked, namely:
(1) Which companies have taken out the largest numbers of unexpired patents?
(2) How many unexpired patents have been issued to a selected group of the largest corporations?
These two questions are not identical since some companies to which a large number of patents have been issued might not be in the large corporation group, and some companies in the large corporation group might have very few patents. The phrase “issued to corporations” is synonymous with “taken out by corporations” but, as will appear, is not exactly equivalent to “owned by corporations.” . In addition to the above, some figures are presented on the total number of #. issued annually to corporations over a period of 20 years.
eissues, design patents, and plant patents are omitted from this
study. Reissues, which averaged 185 a year during the period involved, are revisions of previously issued patents and their inclusion would amount to counting some patents twice. Design patents are omitted because they relate solely to the ornamental appearance of articles; they averaged 3,749 a year oft the period involved. Plant patents are issued for new varieties of plants; these averaged 67 a year. The “regular” patents considered averaged 34,494 per year during the years 1939–55.
2. IssuancE AND OWNErship OF PATENTS
While the application for a patent must be made and sworn to by the inventor (with some exceptions not important here), the patent itself may be issued to another party. If #. applicant has assigned his rights, and the assignment is recorded in }. Patent Office in time, the patent will be issued to the assignee. The printed copies of the specification and drawings of the patent carry the name of the assignee as the owner, as do the notices in the weekly Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. These names also appear in a printed annual Index of Patentees, and a cumulative index of patentees in card form has been maintained in the Patent Office since 1931. The figures presented here with respect to separate companies have been gathered from this cumulative index and are hence in general limited to ownership at the time the patent is issued.
A company can own a patent by assignment from the inventor, or by assignment from someone else whose rights were in turn derived from the inventor. If an invention is made by an employee of a company under conditions which obligate the employee to assign all
2 DISTRIBUTION OF PATENTS ISSUED TO CORPORATIONS
rights to the company, the assignment is usually recorded in the Patent Office while the application for patent is pending, and the patent in such cases is issued to the company. Similarly, if a company acquires ownership from someone outside the company before the patent is issued, the assignment is ordinarily recorded in the Patent Office and the patent issued to the company. The patents issued to a company hence are the sum of the patents resulting from the research activities of the company itself o the patents resulting from inventions purchased from others before the patent is issued. The instances in which an assignment is made but is not recorded and hence the patent is not issued to the company, are not believed to be significant in number. A company may also acquire a patent after it has been issued to some individual and the assignment in such cases may also be recorded in the Patent Office. The indexes which have been mentioned do not include such transfers and the data presented here do not include patents owned by a company which were acquired after they were issued. A study made in 1938 showed that, of the patents issued from January 1, 1931 to June 30, 1938, the number acquired by corporations from individuals after issuance was 2.84 percent of the total issued (of this amount 0.33 percent was by a selected group of 157 large corporations, 2.22 percent by other United States corporations and 0.29 percent by foreign corporations)." This gives some indication of the proportion of such subsequently acquired, patents and there is no reason to suppose that the number would É. significantly different today. A company may also acquire patents from another o to which they were issued in the first place. Such acquisitions would not change the total number of patents issued to corporations but might change the distribution as between types or classes of corporations. Such transfers have not been investigated but a good many of them have been taken into account as will appear. The total number of unexpired patents owned by a particular corporation consists of the number of unexpired patents initially issued to that corporation plus the number of unexpired patents acquired by the corporation after they were issued to someone else, less the number of patents it may have transferred to others. This number can be ascertained from §: assignment records of the Patent Office, but the time and personnel which would be required to make title searches for the large numbers of patents involved were not available for the present study, and the cost would be very great. As has been pointed out, the present study is substantially limited to ownership by corporations at the time the patent is issued, but the degree in .#: the data approximate total ownership has been indicated to some extent.
3. NUMBER of PATENTS IN FoRCE DECEMBER—31,–1955 --—
Since the term of a patent is 17 years, the number of unexpired patents at a given date would normally be the number of patents issued during the preceding 17 years. The total number of patents
* Investigation of concentration of economic power: Hearings before the Temporary National Economic Committee, 76th Cong... pt. 3, Patents, (January 1939), exhibit 188, p. 1127. These hearings will be referred to as TNEó hearings, Fä 3, and some description of the study is given in section 6 of this report. In calculations leading to some of the data presented in 1938, it was estimated that the number of patents acquired by rations from individuals after issuance was 4 F. of the total issued during the preceding 17 years and that of this amount one-half percent was by the selected group of 157 large corporations, 3 percent by other United States corporations and one-half percent by foreign corporations.