Top-10 Inventors, Granted EP patents

Last update I gave a list of the Top-10 inventors when it comes to granted US patents. This information was based on the wiki page prolific inventors, but I have not found any similar top lists for other jurisdictions. However, the patent search engine has a great feature, where one can extract top 100 inventors for a specific search string. Since the search is on inventor names only, so if there are more than one inventor with same name, the result shown is the total for all with the name “Sven Svensson”, so the result might not be entirely correct, but at least it gives a good indication.

Anyhow this is the top-10 list as on (20/5-2017) for granted EP patents, based on search engine

  1. Focke Heinz                    (363)
  2. Silverbrook Kia             (330)
  3. Van Den Berg Karel    (287)
  4. Biedermann Lutz         (252)
  5. Gueret Jean-louis         (231)
  6. Suzuki Takashi               (224)
  7. Mueller Bernd                (213)
  8. Van Der Lely Cornelis (204)
  9. Draghetti Fiorenzo      (198)
  10. Lindoff Bengt                (198)
  11. Inoue Hiroshi                  (194)
  12. Kondo Tetsujiro            (193)

Btw, I know the person on the 10th place ? (and soon it is time for # 200 celebration).

One can note that there are significantly lower numbers of granted patents on the EP top-list (top below 400) compared to the US list (top above 4000). The main reason for this is, I believe, that  seeking patents in US is much more common than seeking EP patents (many patents are only filed in specific European countries and hence will not count within the EP patent umbrella) , and the fact that EP patents are a quite recent patent construction  (first patents filed 1978).

Anyhow, it is nice to be on one top-list at least!

Top-10 Inventors, Granted US patents

Who is the top-inventor in terms of number of patents worldwide? Well, it depends on how you count. Is it granted patents in a specific jurisdiction (US, EP, JP,…), or is total number granted patents worldwide? Unfortunately, there is no formal statistics about this, but in the era of Internet and crowd-sourcing there is a nice wiki site, prolific inventors, where determined inventors with more than 200 granted UP patents are listed. Currently the list consists of 138 inventors. I believe the list is not complete especially for the “low numbers” 200-300, and there will probably be more inventors, living and historical, with more than 200 granted US patents. However, for the top 10 the list is probably complete, and in order to qualify on the top-10 list you need …. 1000+ granted US patents!

Top 10 (12) list (May 9th 2017)

Name  / Active year with published patent / #Granted US patents

  1. Shunpei Yamazaki,   1976-2017:             4803
  2. Kia Silverbrook,         1994-2017:             4742
  3. Lowel L. Wood, Jr,    1977-2017:               1494
  4. Roderic A. Hyde,      2001-2017:               1321
  5. Paul Lapstun,           2000-2017:                1282
  6. Gurtej Sandhu,          1991-2017:                1268
  7. Jun Koyama,               1991-2017:                1257
  8. Leonard Forbes,       1991-2017:                1096
  9. Thomas Edison,      1847(b)-1931(d):      1084
  10. Kangguo Cheng,      2004-2017:              1022
  11. Donald E. Weder,     1976-2017:               1000
  12. George Albert Lyon, 1882(b)-1961(d):   993

Quite amazing guys, the top-2 inventors, with over 4700 patents each, 3 times more than no #3 on the list who has “only” 1494 …

As can be seen there are in fact 11 inventors with more than 1000 granted US  patents, and T.A Edison is nowadays only on 9th place. One can also note that 9 out of the 10 top-inventors still are active, and a majority of them have patents within electronics and semiconductor technologies, indicating how important patents are in these areas.

So, I – with only 251 – still have a lot of catching up to do to be at the top of the list…..

Some facts about inventor productivity

There are quite some academic studies about inventing and inventors and patents. An inventor with many inventions/patents is called serial inventor or prolific inventor. In literature, some define prolific inventors with more than 10-20 patents . With a background in mathematical statistics I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to statistics, so in this post I will try to answer some questions such as; what is the patent productivity distribution for inventors? How many inventors have more than 10 patents? 100 patents?

Well, it turns out that the distribution of number of patents per inventor also quite well follows the Lotka’s  law .

Lotka’s law describes the frequency of publication (patents) by authors (inventors) in any given field (in this case patents and inventors). It states, in the patent and inventor case,  that the number of inventors making x patents in a given period is a fraction of the number making a single patent, following the formula 1/x^a  where a≈2, i.e., an approximate inverse-square law, where the number of inventors filing a certain number of patents is a fixed ratio to the number of authors publishing a single article. Generally, the relation is


So as an example, assume 10000 inventors having filed at least one patent over a certain period of time. Among them, statistically 1/10^2, i.e  1%, 100 inventors,  have made 10 inventions, and statistically 1/100^2=1/10000 = 1 have filed 100 patents.  So among 10000 inventors you can expect to find one inventor that has filed more than 100 patents.

So, now you have learned something new today ?!


What is a Patent?

In order to understand what comprise an invention and the underlying thought process about, firstly, how to come up with inventions and, secondly, how to make them into patents one needs to know what a patent is. This information is easily found on the Internet, for instance here, and the legal aspects of patents will not be treated in detail in this blog,  but below I give a “crash-course” in “What is a patent”.

One could say that a patent is a contract between the inventor/applicant and the society. The inventor/applicant gets a monopoly right to the invention while the society gets a detailed description of how to carry out the invention which improves the technical development in the society.

The monopoly right is limited in time, typically max 20 years. It is furthermore limited geographically, typically to one county.

In order to get a patent granted, there is a need to fulfill four requirements, these are

  • Novelty – The claimed invention should be new w.r.t. prior art, i.e. known techniques
  • Inventive step – The claimed invention should not be obvious in view of prior art
  • Industrial applicability – The invention should belong to a “technical” field
  • Enabling disclosure – The patent application should disclose the invention in a manner such that a skilled person is capable of performing the invention.

Furthermore, a patent consists of the following sections

  • Technical field
  • Background
  • Summary
  • Brief description of drawings
  • Detailed description
  • Claims
  • (Abstract)
  • Drawings

It is the claim parts that defines the scope of protection of the invention.

Furthermore, there is some important facts that probably many do not know about patents.

Having a patent does not mean that you are free to use the invention!

Many inventions today are improvements of prior inventions that may be covered by someone else’s valid patent. If an inventor obtains a patent on improvements to an existing invention which is still a valid patent, they can only legally use the improved invention if the patent holder of the original invention gives permission, which they may refuse.

A granted patent is not necessarily valid!

This might sound surprising, but a granted patent can e.g. be invalidated in court or during opposition.

It is also important to know that there is nothing like a “world patent”. Patents are typically national, and a patent application need to be filed before in a national patent office (e.g. The Swedish Patent Registration Office, PRV or United States Patent and trademark Office, USPTO). The patent application is then searched and examined by the national patent office, and if the application is granted, the result is a national patent in the country in which the application was filed.

A patent family is a set of  patent applications  taken in multiple countries to protect a single invention by  common inventors and then patented in more than one country. A first application is made in one country – the priority – and is then extended to other offices.

Finally, renewal fees (for each country) have to be paid to the national patent office in order to keep the patent in force, and the maximum life length of a patent is typically 20 years.


The How, What and Why ….

In my seminars about inventions and patent creation I usually talk about the “How, What and Why of patents”, and in order to follow the blog it might be good to understand what that means.

First of all, one needs to know What a patent is. This information can be found elsewhere  on the Internet, but I will in the next blog update make a short “crash course” on “what is a patent”.

Secondly, one needs to understand “Why are patents important for industries and society”. Here comes the business perspective of patent into the picture, and this is also information that can be found on many places  in cyber space. However, I will also deal with this subject in the blog since it is of importance to understand the need for inventors, inventions, patent creation and patents.

Finally, we have “How to create patents”, and here we come into my area of expertise, Inventing and patent creation. I will reveal some of my secrets on how to become a prolific inventor, in forthcoming blog updates.

I will also deal with related stuffs, concerning creativity, inventors, inventions and patent creation from my, a researcher and prolific inventor’s, perspective. Example embodiment also covered by the invention … ehhh …sorry….the blog, is; “corporate inventors vs independent inventors”, “who has most Patents on the Planet”, “Statistics over prolific inventors”, “Inventing improves your business network”, “Method and apparatus for producing one invention per week over a year”,  “patent war 100 years ago” and many more. So follow my blog and see what you can learn ?.