Hottest Patent Development Class of 2012

Patents have become a hot commodity. As patents lawsuits continue to flood courthouses, the more likely companies will continue to increase the number of applications for patents. If companies aren’t applying for applications, they may be buying or selling patents. All this attention on patents may leave many wondering what types of patents are the hottest. We’ve got the answer.

In 2012, the technology realm ruled the patent arena, with the top 50 companies awarded patents dominated by technology companies. The most active patent class was 370 – Multiplex Communications, with 9,209 patent applications and 9,169 issued patents, which was 1,130 more patents than the second most-awarded class 455 – Telecommunications. Within the multiplex communications class, numerous subclasses make up the main class.

The top five subclasses include the following:

  1. 329000 – Channel Assignment with 1,362 patent applications and 630 issued patents.
  2. 252000 – Determination of Communication Parameters with 1,175 patent applications and 507 issued patents.
  3. 328000 – Having a Plurality of Contiguous Regions Served by Respective Fixed Stations with 682 patent applications and 436 issued patents.
  4. 331000 – Hand-Off Control with 373 patent applications and 431 issued patents.
  5. 338000 – Contiguous Regions Interconnected by a Local Area Network with 470 patent applications and 357 issued patents.

These subclasses include a large variety of invention titles that involve ways to effectively enhance communication methods. These methods can include mobile communication devices and services, VoIP networks, WiFi, and much more. Many of the inventions relate to mobile phones. Therefore, given the size of the 2011 global mobile phone market at an estimated $150.4 billion, the top patent classes come as no surprise. With increasing advances in the technology world, it is likely that the 370 – Multiplex Communications class will remain a hot development class for quite some time.

Top Five Companies That Abandoned Patents in 2012

Every year, some patent owners abandon their patents. Many times, these abandonments are oversights that typically occur when patent owners forget to pay maintenance fees. For instance, USPTO notices may get lost in the mail due to a change in address or a misspelling in the patent database that can cause a reminder to become lost in the mail system or never make it to the intended receiver. When this happens, the patent owner doesn’t receive a maintenance fee reminder and forgets to pay.

While patent owners may have good intentions, forgetting to pay patent maintenance fees can cause complications. For instance, competitors can invade a particular field that another company used to command. Without patents, companies may lose the ability to charge higher prices for their products. Furthermore, without a patent, a company may have a harder time winning a case in the event of a lawsuit. The following list identifies five companies that abandoned patents the most in the past year. You may be surprised!

  • Toshiba (listed as Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba) abandoned 1,033 patents.
  • Sony Corporation abandoned 1,019 patents.
  • Fujitsu Limited abandoned 850 patents.
  • Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. abandoned 848 patents.
  • Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. abandoned 764 patents.

The top main classes of patents abandoned for these five companies were as follows:

  • 257 – Active Solid-State Devices (e.g., transistors, solid-state diodes)
  • 360 – Dynamic Magnetic Information Storage or Retrieval
  • 365 – Static Information Storage and Retrieval
  • 369 – Dynamic Information Storage or Retrieval
  • 386 – Motion Video Signal Processing for Recording or Reproducing
  • 370-Multiplex Communications
  • 438 – Semiconductor Device Manufacturing: Process

With technology classes topping patent awards and applications, it’s surprising to discover that the companies that abandoned patents the most in 2012 came from the technology industry.