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Press Release 13-027

NSF Survey: 20 Percent of U.S. Businesses Performing or Funding R&D Applied for U.S. Patents in 2008

A majority of patent applications came from three industries

Graphic illustration showing folders,pencil and notepad with drawings and the text pat pending

Computer and electronic products, software publishing and chemicals received most patents in 2008
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February 15, 2013

Data from the 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey reveals that one out of five U.S. companies with research and development (R&D) applied for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2008. The data is the most recent year information is available.

U.S. companies applied for more than 130,000 U.S. patents in 2008. The USPTO issued more than 65,000 patents to companies with R&D that year. Patents are a legal means used by inventors to exclude others from using their invention.

Companies in just three industries--computer and electronic products, software publishing and chemicals--accounted for 56 percent of all patent applications. These three industries accounted for a similarly large share, 59 percent, of the total worldwide R&D expense estimate.

For more information on data from the 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey and this report, please contact Raymond M. Wolfe.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344,

Program Contacts
Raymond M. Wolfe, NSF, (703) 292-7789,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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