Defense IT

Navy's reign in patent rankings continues

The value of military technology research can be looked at in a variety of ways, with protecting lives on the battlefield likely the most commonly cited goal. Another, easily quantified metric, though, might be the number of patents generated by the military’s research labs.

By that score, the Navy continues to lead the pack, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s latest version of the “Top 300 Organizations Granted U.S. Patents.” By IPO’s score, which draws its data from the Patent and Trademark Office for 2014, the Navy led government organizations in patents with 364, which overall placed it 109th on the list. It’s the fifth year in a row at the top for the Navy, whose intellectual property assets are managed by the Office of Naval Research.

Other government entities in the Top 300 are the Health and Human Services Department, with 177 patents and a rank of 188; the Army, with 155 patents, good for 213th place; and NASA, with 112 patents and a rank of 275.

The Navy’s total might look pretty small next to top patent machines IBM (7,481 patents) and Samsung (4,936), but then again, the Navy is working of a different set of problems. Like pirates. One of the Navy’s 2014 patents came for a data system that combines intelligence on pirate behavior, shipping activity and vulnerabilities with meteorological and environmental information to predict the likelihood of a pirate attack in a given area.

Another patented system applies an algorithm to satellite imagery to help locate resources, such as water sources, during disaster relief operations. And then there’s one that most deployed troops would appreciate: a system that uses DNA molecules to quickly identify the main types of Campylobacter Jejuni, a bacteria that can cause diarrheal disease around the world.

“The science and technology component of the Office of Naval Research’s mission is primarily focused on technology maturation,” Rear Adm. Mat Winter, chief of Naval Research, said in a release. “Helping the Navy to patent such a large number of game-changing technologies, year after year, ensures our warfighters retain the technological advantage on the battlefield today, and well into the future, while highlighting the deep scientific intellectual capital across the entire Naval Research Enterprise.”

In addition to IPO’s rankings, the Navy also has since 2008 topped the government list rankings by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Spectrum Magazine, which, in addition to tallying up the total number of patents an organization receives, gives the patents a power ranking based on their originality, impact and other factors.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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