'California dreamin' ' does become
Paul E. Teague, Chief Editor
Of all the great attributes you can point out about
California-the sun, the surf, the mountains-you can
now add another to the list: engineering inventiveness.
The latest statistics from the U.S. Patent and Trademark
Office show that The Golden State has the lion's share
of resident inventors who received U.S. patents last
year. Twenty percent of the 90,000-plus patents issued
to U.S. residents went to Californians, a far higher
percentage than went to residents of any other state.
It's no surprise that the state that produced Hewlett-Packard,
Intel, Apple Computer, Sun Microsystems, and Silicon
Graphics would have a large number of inventors-dreamers
with vision. It must be something in the air.
Also not surprising, in retrospect, is the number-two
state for patents issued to U.S. residents last year:
New York. If it's the climate-and infrastructure-that
makes Californians inventive, it must be the in-your-face
scrappiness of New Yorkers that does it for them. If
you can make it there, the song goes, you can make it
What other states did well in the patent wars? Texas,
New Jersey, and Illinois were numbers three, four, and
five, respectively. Other areas that spawned more patents
in 1999 than in 1998 were Puerto Rico, Idaho, South
Dakota, Kentucky, Arkansas, Kansas, and Wyoming.
Here are some other stats from the Patent Office:
The Patent Office granted 169,154 patents in
1999, including 153,493 so-called utility patents-the
ones for invention.
Both numbers are an increase from 1998, 3.6% and
Foreign-resident inventors took 44.4% of all
What prompted our researching these statistics was
the report by Technical Editor John Lewis on page 58
entitled "New-wave engine." It's about the engineering
behind a new jet board personal watercraft soon to come
on the market. The inventor, Bob Montgomery, has three
U.S. patents and 27 foreign patents on the craft, with
61 more pending worldwide-pretty respectable number.
Where does he live? California.