Delaware remains the patent king. in a report from an investment giant.
However, the state has maintained its status as a center for patent activity.
Capital Ideas ranked Delaware first in a short list of Innovative States. The site acknowledged that other factors figure into innovation, but noted that patents are a major driver.
Capital Ideas is a website from the Capital Group, a little known, but massive mutual funds company that does research on potential holdings.
The site noted that “small but mighty Delaware blows away the competition with an innovation rate of more than 20 utility patents per 1,000 people.”
Capital Ideas took note of DuPont, a longtime source of patents, with many of its discoveries a part of everyday life.
Another attraction for inventors and filers is the corporate law environment.
The site did not mention the University of Delaware, which also has research activities that move into patents.
Delaware has also become a center for patent litigation cases. Companies often choose to file patents in the state of their incorporation and Delaware remains the domicile for many corporations of various sizes.
The state also is known to be friendly to patent holders, the report noted.
The challenge for Delaware comes in getting even a tiny portion of patent discoveries to move into more advanced work.
The state, DuPont and other entities have been working on the issue, with initiatives such as the Delaware Innovation Space.
While DuPont churned out patents, some discoveries were deemed to cover niches that were too small for the company. In other cases, discoveries, like Kevlar, ended up in plants outside the state.
More recently, DowDuPont CEO Edward Breen ended “Moon Shot” research and development work. Instead, the company will focus on lower-risk work with a greater chance of success.
The company had long been criticized for not coming up with another nylon or Kevlar in recent decades.
In defending the decision, Breen said the company is now able. to step up the pace of new products going to market.
One of the victims was a plant in Iowa that used DuPont discoveries from its Delaware Experimental Station and elsewhere to convert waste from the corn harvest into biofuel.
The plant is now for sale. Currently, expensive corn kernels are used in a process that produces ethanol.
Another example of patent discoveries moving elsewhere was a tiny company known as Fingerworks, a pioneer in research into using hand gestures in computers and other devices.
The company, which was building innovative keyboards, was sold to Apple. The company was shut down when its founders went to work at the company in California. Both men continued to be listed in patent filings.
California, the home of Apple, ranked fifth in the Capital Ideas listing.
(Editor’s note: A thank you to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, who posted the ranking on social media)