Intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk has identified “consistent global growth” in the number of patents relating to space technology filed in the last 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission.
‘Space tech’ refers to patents relating to spaceflight, satellite and space exploration technology; while there were 295 filed space tech patents in 1969 in the UK, this figure has risen to 3,500 in 2019.
This exponential increase in filed patents has led the UK government to perceive space tech as a “key part of its strategy for boosting economic growth”, according to Marks & Clerk.
In a global context, Marks & Clerk cites a 69 percent increase in published space tech patents since 2014. Canada leads with 4,891 published patents during the last 5 years, while the US saw 2,763 in the same period, and the UK lagged at 104.
It was also predicted that the international space economy will reach £400 billion by 2030, while the European Patent Office estimates the space product market to be worth up to £112 billion.
The space product market predominantly consists of communication satellites, followed by navigation satellites and Earth observation.
Stephen Blake, partner at Marks & Clerk, commented: “Space science and exploration encompasses everything from aerodynamics and advanced navigation to next-generation telecommunications, aerospace, and space farming—and securing IP rights in these areas is a vital competitive advantage.”
He continued: “Globally, there is a growing list of space-based commercial activities, while it is thought that the UK’s space economy supports more than 80,000 workers. It should therefore not be a surprise that we’ve seen such a big jump in patents being published since Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon.”
Blake concluded: “In a highly competitive global market, innovation is more important than ever. Patents are vital to this—ensuring research and development investments are protected, and providing incentives for future research.”