Subsidiaries and Patent Assignment: A Data-Driven Dilemma

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Tomwsulcer

Thanks to the sharp eyes of Lewis B. Goodman, Associate Director of Operations and Finance at the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization, IP Checkups was able to recognize–and remedy–an error in data collection for its Ivy League Patenting Report.

Cornell University files patents in both its own name and the name of its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Cornell Research Foundation. Therefore, a search for patent documents owned by either “Cornell University” or “Cornell College” was insufficient to locate patent documents assigned to the Cornell Research Foundation. Consequently, IP Checkups’ original Ivy League Patenting Report omitted the majority of Cornell’s pre-2007 patent filings, as these were primarily assigned to the Cornell Research Foundation. We would like to extend our most sincere apologies to the innovative folks at Cornell–and our utmost gratitude to Mr. Goodman, who notified us of this mistake!

Subsidiary assignments present a constant source of frustration to patent searchers–and, quite likely, to all competitive intelligence professionals. Because companies (and, it turns out, universities) can file patents under multiple names, uncovering the complete portfolio of a single organization can be quite challenging. This is especially true when published patent applications are also taken into consideration, as–at least in the U.S.–these documents are not required to formally list an assignee. Therefore, it generally takes at least a little bit of digging–and, ideally, direction from an insider, such as Mr. Goodwin–to ensure that data are complete.

The charts in the Ivy League Patenting Report have been updated. The new report can be downloaded here.

Check back later this week to see new Ivy League Themescape maps, generated from the updated data set!


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