Rising Per-Patent Inventor Count

By Dennis Crouch

The chart below is a follow-up my prior post involving teams of inventors. The chart shows the average number of inventors per utility patent. For patents issued in first five-months of 2018, about 5% have 7 or more inventors.

U.S. Patent No. 9,971,713 (GlobalFoundaries) is an example of a high-inventor-count patent with 60 listed inventors. The patent is now owned by GlobalFoundaries (CAYMAN ISLANDS) but originated from work by IBM and a Department of Energy grant.

6 thoughts on “Rising Per-Patent Inventor Count

  1. 3

    As in-house counsel I feel that this is a natural result of inventor awards being offered to inventors that file application. When engineers get economic incentives to file inventions, the natural result is that engineers will consult with more of their peers and then include those peers in invention submissions, because those peers will then reciprocate. Lawyers have no incentive to police this, because when an invention disclosure is the result of a meeting of engineers it is never terribly clear who contributed to which part of the idea.

    1. 3.1

      Excellent point.

      I would add that as in-house counsel, unless you specifically ask (and pay) for outside counsel TO police the “who contributed what,” that onus does not leave your desk.

      Depending on the firm (and their particular employment policies), this could ne a rather big deal (and conversely, it could be a minor nit at best).

      As outside counsel, you, the firm are my client and NOT (and this should be expressly understood) the individual inventors.

  2. 2

    I wonder how many divisional applications have the proper number of inventors listed (a number less than in the parent case) rather than assuming that all of the inventors contributed to the divisional inventions.

    1. 2.1


      I think that you assume that any division somehow “must” have less than the original number of inventors.

      That is not a safe assumption.

      A division may be such (and easily so) that ALL inventors are still properly included.

      That being said, your post is valuable if the question (by counsel) is not being asked, as it is something that should be asked.

  3. 1

    The graph here – much like the previous one – hides an implicit conflation, and one needs to be careful if taking away any view of “linearity.”

    In both cases, there are year to year effects in what underlies (here) “average” and (previously) “percentage” that need be accounted for.

    To the extent that such graphs provide for incorrect takeaways, their simplicity is no decent exchange for understanding, and in fact may provide a dis-service for readers (especially casual ones who may not even recognize that there is (necessarily) more than meets the eye here.

    1. 1.1

      …you may want to try a trend per class type, normalized by the baseline year in which the stats start.

      That is, for each set of inventor size class, trend the count for that class, and normalize for the starting year,

      Such a graph would show how each of the class items are evolving over time, without conflation of the year to year variability comingling the data.

      Just a thought…

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