Foreign Countries Receiving Higher Share of U.S. Patents
Gene Grabowski, Ap, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Of the 72,149 patents the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded last year, more than 31,000 - about 43 percent - were taken by foreign corporations eager to own exclusive rights to products in the U.S. marketplace.
The single largest group of those foreign patents - 11,355 - went to companies in Japan, a nation that now earns more than $4 billion a month in trade with the United States.
""The patent figures are certainly important because they mean the Japanese and others are catching up in technology and will very soon enjoy a favorable balance of payments in the high-tech area,'' assistant patent commissioner Rene D. Tegtmeyer said in an interview this week.
""That means that we're going to be buying even more cars, cameras and high technology from Japan than we are now,'' he said.
In the high-technology fields of lasers, computer software and communications, U.S. manufacturers are still ahead of the Japanese, according to Commerce Department trade figures.
But the U.S. lead has been slowly eroding in recent years, and Tegtmeyer said the patent figures for electronics, autos and data storage are an indication that it could be erased.
""In certain fields, the Japanese have gone beyond just catching up, they're acquiring most of the patents,'' he said.
In the field of radiation imagery and photocopying, for example, the Japanese obtained 47.7 of the U.S. patents in 1984, while American inventors received 41 percent.
The figures are even more startling in the field of photography, where Japanese companies acquired 70 percent of the automatic focusing patents, while U.S. firms settled for 15 percent. For camera shutters, the Japanese took 73 percent of the patents and Americans 16 percent.
""The Japanese are especially aggressive in the area of internal combustion engines for automobiles,'' Tegtmeyer said. …