Air travel is one of the building blocks of our economy--the ability to get where we need to go quickly, safely, and efficiently, at least in theory. While flying the friendly skies evokes images of the glory days of traveling in style for many, the reality these days is one of long lines, frequent delays, and color-coded terror alert levels. Still, though, flying is essential to our modern way of life, and we trust the engineers at a handful of companies to build our airplanes for us. For our next patent matchup, we're going to be taking a look at two of the most advanced aviation engineering companies in the world: Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Boeing was founded in Seattle in 1916 by William E. Boeing. The company got its start by building sea planes, but now operates in all sectors of the aviation industry, including defense and commercial aviation. Boeing rose to prominence during Word War II for its production of the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-29 Superfortress, both key weapons of the Allied air campaign. Its commercial division has also produced a number of popular passenger airliners, including the 737, 747 (known as the "Queen of the Skies"), and the 787 Dreamliner.

Lockheed was founded as the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company in San Francisco in 1912, and went through several name changes before becoming the Lockheed Corporation in 1934. It became Lockheed Martin after its merger with Martin Marietta in 1995. Lockheed operates primarily in the defense sector. As such, it is the world's largest defense contractor, receiving approximately 85% of its income from federal contracts. Like Boeing, it was also vital during World War II, producing the P-38 lightning fighter. Lockheed is particularly famous for its Advanced Development Programs, also known as Skunk Works, which is known for its work on advanced and top secret projects.

Using Juristat’s Marketing Reports and data provided by the USPTO, we measured the effectiveness of each company’s patent prosecution efforts through five key metrics: allowance rate, average number of office actions, average speed to disposition, and average number of independent and dependent claims lost. Below are some illustrations that demonstrate our findings (hover for details).


What we found is that the two companies are remarkably similar in their patent prosecution efforts, with Lockheed coming out slightly ahead in most metrics. Boeing has the upper hand in allowance rate, earning four percentage points more than Lockheed, but its advantage stops there. Lockheed receives 0.1 office actions fewer than Boeing and its prosecution timeline is 0.6 months shorter, although both of these differences are rather negligible. Looking at the claims data, Lockheed retains an average of 0.29 more independent claims and 0.9 more dependent claims than Boeing. Overall, it appears that Lockheed does slightly better than Boeing at the USPTO, although this matchup is the closest to a tie that we've yet seen.