Australia’s IP moguls


Australia’s IP moguls

If you own a property in Australia, some say you are living the dream (not Matt Barrie, he does not say that). If that property is desirable – let’s say at least 5 interested parties would turn up at auction and bid to buy – then it’s likely the property has significant value (especially if it is in Sydney). Sometimes, things are worth what other people are prepared to pay to have them. If you happened to own 5 of such desirable properties, then you are elevated from suburban homeowner to property mogul. Most would agree you have a very healthy property portfolio.

It’s the same with patents. If you own a single intellectual property right, such as a patent, then you might be considered a budding inventor. But if you own 5 patent rights covering technology that at least 5 other separate entities have tried to get a hold of, we are now talking “heavyweight entrepreneur”.

Finding these desirable patent rights can be undertaken with a technique we call “5×5 citation analysis”. It’s exactly as described above, any bunch of 5 patent rights that have each been desirable to at least 5 other entities. Entities holding such portfolios are rarer than you might think – especially in Australia.

We used 5×5 citation analysis to pull out the top Australian corporate and academic patenting entities. There are less than 20 entities in each category respectively that meet the “5×5 citation” requirements. In order to make the analysis more interesting, we have also added the limitation that at least one of the patent rights identified in the 5×5 citation analysis had to have been filed within the last 5 years (in order to filter out the inactive companies or those that no longer seem to hold mogul status). Using the property analogy, we only looked for those who had bought at least one property since 2012 to date – otherwise they’re probably just on a beach somewhere drinking a pina colada.

The Results

1. Australian Corporates

Corporate table

There are 16 corporate entities that meet the 5×5 citation analysis requirements. Corporate 15 and Corporate 16 just made the cut with 5 patent rights each. Although notice for each of these, many more than 5 entities have attempted to patent in the same space, in fact an average of 24.4 and 12.4 other entities, respectively.

Corporate 1 has a whopping 103 inventions in their portfolio that have each attracted more than 5 citations (an impressive average of 100 citations per patent right in the set). This is a stellar performance by any measure.

The total number of corporate inventions that meet the 5×5 requirements is 309, and the average citation score is 48.3. This means that the top 16 Australian corporate entities hold over 300+ inventions, each of which has posed an obstacle to on average about 48 other entities trying to patent in exactly the same or substantially similar technology area.

2. Australian Academics

Academic table

There are 11 public sector research institutions (“academic”) entities that meet the 5×5 citation analysis requirements. It is notable that Academic 1 has a three times as many influential inventions as the top corporate counterpart (356). The average number of citations attracted, however, is less (32.6 as compared to 100.7). Presumably the inventions of Academic 1 are across a much broader range of technologies as well.

The total number of academic individual inventions that meet the 5×5 requirements is 792 and the average citation score is 26.7. This means that the top 11 Australian academic entities hold almost 800 inventions, each of which has posed an obstacle to about 27 other entities trying to patent in exactly the same or substantially similar technology area. Notwithstanding the overall lower citation rate when compared with their corporate counterparts, the academic data shows significantly influential technology is being translated into patent rights by some Australian public sector research institutions.


Overall we can say that Australian public sector research institutions have twice as many patent rights in the 5×5 dataset, but each of these are only half as desirable as the corporate bunch. To use the property analogy, the academics own more homes but these would not be as popular for competitive sale when they go to auction. Perhaps they have a longer commute.

The data could indicate that Australian corporate entities are generally filing more commercially relevant patent rights in crowded areas of technology. This seems sensible given that one reason (not the only reason) that corporates patent is to get a competitive advantage by blocking competitors in the marketplace, or to seek licensing fees from competitors.

Public sector research institutions may attract relatively less citations in the 5×5 set because they are involved in pioneering research. This would be the equivalent of owning property on the outskirts of town where the new homes are being built – it’s still good property only there are fewer people there (for now). You can only be cited by others that are working in the same space.

Some deeper analysis into where the citations are coming from (who is at the auction) reveals that only about 5% of the citations against corporates are from public sector research institutions, whereas almost 25% of citations against public sector research institutions are other public sector research institutions; that is, the inventions of the top corporate entities are 5 times more likely to be cited by other corporate entities as compared to an academic patent. This adds weight to the hypothesis that academic patenting might be at the fringes of technology that has less immediate commercial relevance, or it could just imply that Australian academic research is not focused on commercially relevant areas of technology.

If you have anything to add to this discussion, please feel free to comment. This is a new way to look at Australian corporate and academic patenting activity, which is a glimpse at the underlying R&D activity, so we shall welcome all new and insightful views!

*The data was sought from Derwent Innovation. The dataset used for analysis includes all published patent rights since 2007 (DP>=(20070101)) in the name of Australian entities (PRC=(AU) OR CO=(Pty ADJ Ltd). To meet the requirements of 5×5 citations in 5 years: EPY>=2012 + DPCI>5 + Count>5).


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