The report, Water Technology U.S. Patent Landscape Annual Report, indicates that among 384 water technology patents issued last year, there were 124 patents and 1,958 claims made in the “water purification” category. Other leading categories were water reclamation and treatment (96 patents, 1,534 claims) and water conservation (65 patents, 1,051 claims). The category with the least patent activity was “metering,” with 16 patents and 274 claims. Data were also presented for these other water technology categories: irrigation, desalinization and/or distillation, and hydro/wave/tidal power.
Looking at the types of devices described in the patents, the report said the largest number of claims made under their respective patents were for “water flow-reducing fixtures or flow-limiting valves” (277 claims). Other top categories of claims were “appliances with water conservation characteristics” (263 claims), “treatment of industrial processing or wastewater” (263 claims), “sub-surface current-driven hydropower generation (hydro turbine flow ducts or flow accelerators)” (241 claims), and “purification devices using ionization or electrodes” (199 claims).
The report also identified so-called “white space,” or technological areas where there seems to be the greatest potential for additional patents and technical innovation. The top “white space” category, in the firm’s analysis, was “water treatment with biological agents,” followed by “materials and compositions for water treatment.
More than 30% of 2008 water technology patents were granted to individual inventors as opposed to corporations, the report indicates. Corporations tended to file more patents in more sophisticated water treatment technologies such as desalination, where barriers to market entry typically are higher.
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