CNN reports that the US patent Office has come out saying tht U.S. innovation slowed this year for the first time in 13 years as the recession cut into budgets, and costs to protect inventions rose.
The number of patent filings in the United States fell 2.3% in 2009 to 485,500 from 496,886 last year, according to a preliminary estimate by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That makes 2009 the first year since 1996 in which businesses and inventors filed fewer patents year over year.
“That’s unfortunate because [patent filings] are a reflection of innovation,” said David Kappos, director of the Patent Office. “Innovation creates so many jobs and so much opportunity for our country. It is absolutely key to our long-term success in the global economy.”
At the same time, U.S. patents issued to inventors and businesses in foreign nations jumped 6.3% for the year. That’s a worry for Silicon Valley, which has been a global leader for decades.
Most blame the recession for the drop in U.S. filings. As a result, many companies are opting to hold off on bringing new ideas to market until the economy improves substantially.
“Our patent filings were down 25% this year, and it was a direct macroeconomic issue,” said Joe FitzGerald, deputy general counsel for tech security firm Symantec. “The overall company reduced spending, and patent filings are a very controllable expense. We might have filed four patents, but we filed three and made sure they were strategically significant.”