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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers a searchable database by state and city of issued patents on its website ( Collecting information on the number of patents issued in a MSA is complicated, because the user cannot sort patents by MSA. If the MSA is of a manageable size, data can be collected by city, and the user can do multiple searches and aggregate the data to the MSA level. Collecting data at the MSA and national levels, and normalizing the data per employee with employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a useful way for presenting the data in context.

To measure the impact (or quality) of patents, it is also possible to track the number of regional patent citations in scientific literature. However, there is no simple way to accomplish this for each patent associated with a particular region.

Not all viable ideas for new products and services reach the patent stage. For a more complete picture of a region’s ability to produce new ideas, economic developers should supplement the national patenting data with region-specific research, such as surveys and interviews.

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