Here at Juristat we enjoy finding novel and intriguing ways to analyze data within the USPTO. As such, we’re launching a new content series based on groupings assigned within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In this first installment of our ATF series we will explore the “A” in ATF: Alcohol.
Unsurprisingly, due to the wide variety of procedures surrounding how alcohol is produced, bottled, and packaged, there are numerous classes at the USPTO to which an alcohol-based application may be assigned. Moreover, alcohol-based companies appear to be non-discriminatory in their filings which only adds to the class variety; major alcohol companies file applications on all aspects of their processes and procedures. In regards to the variety of classes that these applications fall into, more general alcohol related applications could fall under Food and Beverages (Class 99) while more specific production-based applications could land in one of many fermentation classes (Class 275 Subclasses 275.276 and 275.277, Class 426 Subclass 426.7, etc) or the Alcoholic Beverage Production subclass (Class 426 Subclass 426.11). To give a real world example of the diversity in class assignment for these types of applications, since 2010, Anheuser-Busch InBev has landed in 30 distinct USPTO classes ranging from Class 222: Dispensing to Class 198 Conveyors: power-driven.
Bacardi Limited, Heineken N.V., Carlsberg Group, Molson Coors Brewing Company, Pernod Ricard S.A., and Diageo are some of the largest filers of alcohol-related applications at the USPTO. However, even the most prolific of the group, Bacardi Limited, has filed just over 100 applications since 2000. A major contributor to the smaller than expected filing numbers could be due in part to the legal concept of trade secrets. Similar to Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsico Inc., these alcohol companies may be protecting their intellectual property by not filing patent applications. However, even taking into consideration trade secrets, alcohol related filings appear low. Coca-Cola Co. as over 650 filed applications since 2000 and Pepsico Inc. has over 950. Admittedly, Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsico Inc. hold much larger market shares than many alcohol companies. As such, individual alcohol companies could have fewer filed applications due to the variety in their industry.
As to be expected, when narrowed to the largest alcohol related application filers, the variety in classes to which these applications are assigned is still present. When looking specifically at the aforementioned six largest alcohol filing companies, the top ten classes to which their applications are assigned are:
Due to the variety in companies filing alcohol related USPTO patent applications and the diversity in classes to which those applications may be assigned, it is difficult to pull out statistically relevant comparisons between alcohol related patent filers and other patent filers. However, any information allowing you to better understand the landscape in which an industry is operating is beneficial and oftentimes essential to fully comprehending how that industry functions.
Next up in Juristat’s ATF series: Tobacco.
We used Juristat’s database of over 8 million patent applications to collect the data for these articles. We encourage all patent practitioners to learn more about using big data to enhance their prosecution practice. Take the first step and check out our free trial!