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Exploring the Landscape of American Innovation

Throughout our country’s history, innovators have used the patent system to protect their ideas. From Samuel Hopkin's improved process in making potash, an ingredient in fertilizer in 1790, to the patents of the present day, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has evaluated and safeguarded innovation around the world.

The many years of data relating to innovation are all made publicly available by the USPTO through their recently launched Developer Hub. The Developer Hub provides a shareable, social platform for anyone using the data to showcase the unique ways they’re using it. This public resource makes it possible to answer fundamental questions in the technology and innovation spaces.

Among the vast set of data that the USPTO provides, the Patent Technology Monitoring Team (PTMT) produces aggregations of the underlying patent data, along multiple, different dimensions and partitions. These aggregations answer a host of questions for us, including questions related to trends in technology and innovation in any given sector.

As part of the Commerce Data Usability Project and in collaboration with the Commerce Data Service, the USPTO created a tutorial introducing Tableau as a way to explore USPTO data. In essence, Tableau makes it easy to develop visualizations in order to quickly identify the changes in data. A series of visualizations powered by Tableau and USPTO data, for example, reveals new insights into how innovation varies across the United States, state by state. In California more patents are granted for technology innovations, but in Alaska, more patents are granted for oil drilling.

Graph of utility patent count.

This is just a glimpse into USPTO data, but it’s easy to see how its innovation can help you make better data-driven policy decisions that have even greater impacts on society. Spend some time exploring this tutorial. See what insights you uncover from the data, build your own data-driven stories, create your own data products, and share what you’ve done with us on the USPTO Developer Hub.

By Star Ying (Commerce Data Service), Thomas Beach (US Patent and Trademark Office), and Scott Beliveau (US Patent and Trademark Office)

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