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27th April 2023

Could NPEs stifle innovation in sustainable energy?

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Many companies are moving away from using fossil fuels to reduce the environmental impact of their business. 

This has led to an explosion of research into alternative energy sources, with a large increase in the number of patents being filed in each of the last 20 years.

However, there could be a risk to organisations patenting in this area from non-practicing entities (NPEs), which could stifle innovation and development of sustainable energy technologies

To analyse the potential risk from NPEs in this area, we used Cipher’s Universal Technology Taxonomy (UTT) which classifies every patent available into one of over 120 technology classes.

This contains six classes relevant to sustainable and alternative energy:

  1. Batteries
  2. Photovoltaics
  3. Nuclear
  4. Hydroelectric
  5. Fuel Cells
  6. Wind Turbines.

While this doesn’t include an analysis of sustainable technology areas such as biofuels, it still provides a snapshot of NPE interest in sustainable energy technologies.

Key findings from our report

  • NPEs have the highest number of patents in the sustainable energy fields of Nuclear, Batteries, and Photovoltaics.
  • The total number of active families owned by NPEs have generally decreased over the last 20 years, suggesting difficulty monetizing these portfolios.
  • There has recently been a spree of litigations by NPEs against small companies in the sustainable energy industry, which could stifle innovation and slow the energy transition.

Cipher Report on NPEs and Sustainable Energy patents


NPEs report

The full report has sections on:

  • A landscape Overview
  • Which NPEs own the patents in sustainable energy?
  • The companies NPEs have litigated against

Cipher’s Universal Technology Taxonomy

Cipher’s unique Universal Technology Taxonomy (UTT) takes millions of assets and sorts them into:

  • 10 Technology Superclasses
  • 122 Technology Sub-classes

The UTT supports data exploration to answer patent search questions.  It also demonstrates a range of intelligence for benchmarking, competitor analysis and investment activity.

With relative ease, the UTT can figure out the innovation leaders and laggards in particular area of technology, such as sustainable development.

Learn more about the Universal Technology Taxonomy
UTT Superclasses

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