Clean tech patents surge to record high in 2010

An IP law firm that tracks a clean tech patent index has published record breaking results for 2010. Clean tech patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office have doubled the yearly average set over the past decade.
Written by David Worthington, Contributor
Image credit: Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C

An upstate New York intellectual property law firm that produces a growth index for clean tech patents has found that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) granted nearly twice as many patents in 2010 over nearly every given year since the index was first tracked.

Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti's CEPGI, or Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, reveals that nearly 1900 clean tech patents were issued by the PTO in 2010. That's a spike from the nearly 1200 patents it granted in 2009, and far exceeds the previous years' average of around 815 patents per year.

The CEPGI was started in 2002, and tracks patents for biofuels, fuel cells, geothermal energy, hybrid vehicles, hydroelectric, solar, and wind technologies. Fuel cell patents were 2010's standout, trailed by solar and wind patents.

Image credit: Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C

The largest recipients of clean tech patents in 2010 were automobile manufacturers General Motors and Toyota (respectively), and Samsung, which was a leader in fuel cell patents. General Electric was granted the most wind power patents, and Applied Materials was dominant in its solar patents.

Applicants in Japan and the United States were granted substantially more patents than any other geographic region; the United States accounted 49 percent, followed by Japan at 27 percent. Within the United States, Michigan, California, and New York led the States.

Image credit: Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C

Patents are one way to track the industry's growth: venture capital investment in energy start-ups is another key indicator. Interestingly, Cleantech Group told CNET last month that venture capital money is flowing at the highest level since the company began to monitor global investment in 2002.

Also last month, Total announced its planned investment of US$2.3 billion into SunPower, a solar panel manufacturer based in California.

A PwC/NVCA MoneyTree™ Report based on data from Thomson Reuters showed a 26 percent increase in green technology investment over the fourth quarter of 2010. Venture capital investment in green technology surpassed the US$1 billion mark for the fourth time in the report's history.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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