New Zealand thrashes Australia in US patent race

Australia registered just 1.3 times the number of patents claimed by New Zealand

Innovation is often cited as a prerequisite for closing the income gap with Australia, but it appears there is no shortage of innovation in the Shakey Isles, with New Zealand outpacing the Lucky Country in the registration of US patents.

Australia registered 0.6 percent of US patents in 2009, 942 in total, according to IFI patent intelligence. That made it the 15th ranked country in IFI's analysis. In 2008 Australia registered 818 US patents.

In comparison, as reported last month, New Zealand claimed 0.47 percent of patents awarded by the US Patentand Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2009, a total of around 800 claims. New Zealand's share of US patents is also growing. We claimed 0.41 percent of patents in 2008


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But Australia has 21.4 million people compared with New Zealand's 4.3 million. On a per capita basis, Australia should claim five times as many US patents as New Zealand, not the 1.3 times it actually achieved.

Similarly, with New Zealand’s population just .33 percent of the total population of the OECD, we seem to be doing well in terms of a broader international comparison.

Last month, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise operations director Craig Armstrong was positive about the numbers.

“It reflects what has become standard advice that New Zealand companies protect their intellectual property before going offshore,” he told Computerworld.

Whether organisations succeed in commercialising their inventions is not measured in the analysis.

The statistics cover patents awarded to companies and organisations, not to individuals. They are also for utility patents only, which are about 90 percent of the total patents issued by the USPTO. Utility patents cover new devices, processes, machines, manufactured items and chemicals among other inventions.

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