Voting Rights

Voting_boothSeptember 19, 2006 is primary day here in Massachusetts.  In the recent Patently-O readership poll, 542 readers cast their vote (one per computer). Those results show that slightly over half of the voting readers work in law firms.  Of those, two-fifths are in small firms.  Twenty-two percent of readers hail from in-house jobs in corporate America while about fifteen percent come from academia.  Government jobs only grabbed eight percent — although that category was not added until after 150 people had already voted. Thanks for participating!

In a related note, Patently-O reader (and creator of ToolPat) Scott Kamholz recently did his own empirical work of blue and red states. His results:

9,060 total U.S. patents issued to U.S. assignees in August 2006.
6,635 issued to assignees in “blue” states.
2,425 issued to assignees in “red” states.


“acn/us and isd/20060801->20060831” for total in August.

“isd/20060801->20060831 and as/(wa or ca or mn or wi or il or mi or pa or dc or ny or nj or hi or md or de or ma or me or nh or vt or ri or ct)” for “blue” states except oregon (its abbreviation is “or” and so messes up the boolean search logic) gives 6,555 hits.

“isd/20060801->20060831 and as/or” for Oregon gives 80 hits.

“isd/20060801->20060831 and acn/us andnot as/(wa or ca or mn or wi or il or mi or pa or dc or ny or nj or hi or md or de or ma or me or nh or vt or ri or ct)” for “red” states gives 2505 hits.  Subtracting Oregon gives 2,425.

 Finally — here is Ed Felton & his gang showing how to steal votes on a Diebold AccuVote voting machine.

14 thoughts on “Voting Rights

  1. 13

    That’s an interesting analysis – for what it’s worth, the USPTO publishes lists of patents by state for all patents, not just those which were assigned (“State” being determined by first inventor residence, rather than assignee). I entered that data (for total patents 1983-2004) into a spreadsheet and used the same red/blue assignments to arrive at 35% red / 65% blue. That’s still a significant difference, even if not as dramatic as the 26%/74% split for assigned patents in August.

    Living here in solidly “red” central New York, part of “blue” New York State, though, I’m well aware of how skewed the “winner take all” red/blue assignments are. Most of New York outside of the immediate New York City area is Republican, but the large (and mostly Democratic) population of the NY metro area skews the statistics. I wonder how many inventors in New York are from the “blue” City, vs. the “red” rest of the state, given that much of the technology industries of the state have long since moved upstate.

  2. 12

    The Delaware skew will have to be taken into effect in order to make this a meaningful analysis – of course, for many of our Fortune 500 clients we use the address of the headquarters on the face of the patent even if they are incorporated in DE, so the effect may be smaller than you think.

    In other news – both red and blue states are getting fat: – a very cool time course of the growing American girth.

  3. 11

    The “red-state”/”blue-state” phenomenon is interesting, but I have to ask, so what?

    This site looks a bit more deeply into the red/blue distinction.
    link to

    I think the picture that emerges is that the “blueness” is localized in the cities rather than being characteristic of an entire state. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is very “blue,” while Erie, PA is very “red.” Similarly, Texas is a “red” state, but Houston and Dallas are quite “blue.” To say that an assignee or an inventor is from Texas versus Pennsylvania doesn’t tell us much about that person’s politics or the relevance of politics to invention.

    Also, as many of us know, there are lots of worthless patents out there. Assuming for the sake of argument that one’s state of residence accurately correlates with one’s politics, the study could indicate that Dems are more “innovative,” or that they have more people in their midst who are prone to file patents for dog ear-warmers, methods of swinging, etc.

    What I’d like to know is (1) what was Jerome Lemelson’s party affiliation, and (2) does the relative number of patent trolls in each state correlate with the number of bridges in each state?

  4. 10

    That should be: However, there are NOT nearly as many company headquarters in the middle of the midwest, a region that is more heavily defined as a “red state.”

  5. 9

    I would have to agree with the concept of it being slightly skewed. Many companies are largely based out of states such as California, New York, and other states with relatively large cities. These cities also tend to be more heavily affiliated as a “blue state.” However, there are nearly as many company headquarters in the middle of the midwest, a region that is more heavily defined as a “red state.” Thus when the looking at the assignee/location it is likely going to be from the company headquarter/main engineering facility (which often is near the headquarters) and thus more likely to be lcated within a “blue state.”

  6. 8

    This makes sense, as production workers are more likely to vote Democrat, and states with more industry are likely to get more patents.

  7. 6

    oops…nevermind. Just remembered that Assignee on the face of the patent isn’t necessarily where the assignee is incorporated.

  8. 5

    This is probably highly skewed, since it is done by assignee (mostly corporations), and most corporations are Delaware corporations (a blue state according to the methodology).

  9. 4

    Okay, M, here’s the per capita analysis:

    2004 Population figures (per link to
    Total population: 293,665,404
    Blue state population: 141,904,303
    Red state population: 151,751,061

    Blue patents per capita: 1 per 21,387 people
    Red patents per capita: 1 per 62,578 people

    or nearly 3 times more patents per capita in blue states than in red states.

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