The Economist – Millions of patents that are just intellectual junk and the 65 inventors whose patents are worth billions

Still following a previous post about the tragic consequences of the abolishment of the professor’s privilege check an article published in The Economist that began as follows: “It is testament to human inventiveness that 50m patents are estimated to have been granted globally. But in aggregate much of the collection resembles an intellectual junkyard. Included are plausible ideas that no firm ever wanted to pay for, plausible ideas that fell short, and absurdities…Pare the list to those that are both sensible and in force legally, meaning a fee is paid to a patent office to keep them alive, and there are 16m patents that count...”

This article in The Economist analyzed the failed attempts to estimate the value of a patent until PatentVector came along. This startup uses a method (already patented and purchased by several companies and institutions) based on patent citations. The aforementioned startup “…uses artificial intelligence to comb through 132 million patent documents held by the European Patent Office in Munich (the largest collection in the world). Then, it assesses, on the one hand, the frequency with which a patent is cited and, on the other hand, the frequency with which it is cited by patents themselves frequently cited. This gives an indication of importance which is then multiplied by an average patent value”.

According to PatentVector, medical device maker Ethicon (which is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) holds 95 of the 200 most valuable patents in the world, with those named after the eccentric Frederick Shelton is estimated to be worth US$15 billion. The article also mentions that PatentVector found another 65 inventors, who belong to the club of patents valued at more than 1 billion dollars.

PS – Why is the aforementioned Frederick Shelton much less known than Ronaldo (and even less known than second and third-line soccer players) if what he does is much more important? Is it because our civilization promotes the cult of ignorance?