Clean Energy Patent Index Shows Slight Drop in Q1 2009

The clean energy patent tallies for the first quarter of 2009 came out last month.  The first quarter report of the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI), run by the Heslin Rothenberg law firm, found that the number of U.S. patents granted in the clean energy sector fell slightly in the first quarter of this year.

According to CEPGI, 243 clean energy patents were granted in the first quarter of 2009, which was a slight drop from the 261 granted in the fourth quarter of 2008.  However, it was a relative gain from the first quarter of last year, in which the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) granted 220 clean energy patents.

This drop comes in the wake of a record year:  in 2008, 928 clean energy patents issued in the U.S.

As to the technologies being patented, fuel cells are the most represented but fell from 140 to 133 from the previous quarter.  Wind, solar and tidal / wave energy patents also dropped in the first quarter of 2009, but patents relating to biofuels and hybrid and electric vehicles rose.

The top 10 clean energy patentees in Q1 2009 included automakers such as Honda, General Motors, Toyota and Nissan with a host of fuel cell patents and some hybrid vehicle patents.  Other companies in the top ten included Panasonic, General Electric, Samsung and Enercon.

Last year’s first quarter report also found a drop in granted clean energy patents relative to the fourth quarter of 2007.  One possible explanation for first quarter dips is that the PTO issues more patents in the fourth quarter of the year than in the first quarter, perhaps because patent examiners try to wrap up cases at the end of the year.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.