Another way to get a sense of how much art is typically retained for offensive (litigation and dissuading honest competition), defensive (cross-licensing), licensing-out, and barter (ventures) use, as well as how much is abandoned, the following benchmarks are provided.

Benchmarking results by Thom Kobayashi show that companies tend to let roughly equal portions of their portfolios lapse at each of the payment times. Over half of the patents are left to expire before they reach full term. Companies with more resources tend to both file more and retain more of their IP portfolios, where the larger entities retain almost 16% more over the patents’ lifetime.

Patent Maintenance History

The “Patent Maintenance History” figure makes it easy to see the average U.S. patent portfolio activity over time. Data at year 2 and year 16 were included by Thom Kobayashi, Senior Patent Analyst at Innography to help illustrate that the population of patents was stable both before the first scheduled fee payment and after the last scheduled fee payment. This stability indicates that expiration for anything other than fee payment is small by comparison.

The blue line shows the percentage drop in the active population, while the orange line shows the corresponding rise in the expired population. This indicates the expected: a relatively stable group of
patents issued with significant portions expiries at each of the fee-payment trigger points. The red line reflects the actual timing of the triggering events, rather than the timing of the data. Note that over half (approx. 54%) of the patents are left to expire before they reach full term. It is interesting that these occurred in three, approximately equal 18% tranches, likely triggered by the three fee-payment events.