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An inventive spirit, an impressive ranking

Case Western Reserve No. 21 for number of patents granted among universities worldwide; ranking by National Academy of Inventors, Intellectual Property Owners Association

Case Western Reserve University ranks No. 21 globally for the number of U.S. Utility Patents awarded to the university and its researchers, according to 2021 data compiled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

That ranking places Case Western Reserve among the elite research universities worldwide and ahead of other Top 50 institutions such as Columbia, Yale and the University of North Carolina. The University of California was listed as the top institution for securing patents.

photo of Michael Oakes
Michael Oakes

The rankings were released this morning by the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) to highlight “the vital role patents play in university research and innovation.”

“The role of leading research universities in technology transfer and ultimately commercialization is greatly under-appreciated,” said Michael Oakes, senior vice president for Research and Technology Transfer at Case Western Reserve. “The distinguished history of discovery and innovation at CWRU is only surpassed by our renewed focus on growing the research enterprise by solving tough problems in health, manufacturing, natural security, sustainability and community development.”

Published annually since 2013, the report ranks the top 100 universities worldwide named as the first assignee on utility patents granted by the USPTO in the 2021 calendar year. The full report can be found here.

The USPTO awards utility patents based what an idea or invention does, or how it is used. The other kind of patent the office grants is a design patent, which instead focuses on an item’s appearance or look. While only a small percentage of patented items actually reach the market, the protections that patents provide represent a critical step toward engaging investors and entities.

A culture of innovation

Case Western Reserve has demonstrated a steady growth in the rankings, up from 43rd in 2017, 46th in 2016 and 51st in 2015. The university, which made it as high as 17th in 2018 with 95 utility patents, had 97 patents this year. 

“It is always exciting, and with a sense of pride, to review the breakthrough inventions created by our talented inventors,” said Case Western Reserve Chief Innovation Officer Joe Jankowski. “We have a broad portfolio, one that touches on improving the human condition with applications ranging from new medicines and vaccines to flame-retardant materials and energy-efficient data storage systems.”

Jankowski said every patent represented on the list is actually the result of what is typically many years of dedicated research activity led by faculty and with support from staff, graduate students and post-doctoral contributors.

“Innovation based on university technology continues to be a key factor in economic development,” said NAI President Paul R. Sanberg. “The expansion of technology and innovation are fundamental to the success of a university.”

For more information, contact Mike Scott at