04/03/2000 Design News
'California dreamin' ' does become reality
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 anywhere.
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 4%, respectively.
Foreign-resident inventors took 44.4% of all U.S. patents.
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.