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I'm trying to work out how many virtual reality patents are assigned each year, and how the size of the market has changed.

I also want to work out how many patents are reassigned each year, and how much they are sold for. The idea is to work out the activity of the patent market around a specific field of invention.

What techniques would you use for this kind of research?

  • Welcome - and this is probably off-topic for Ask Patents. – George White Nov 13 '14 at 5:32
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The overall field is called patent analytics. Academics do quite a bit of it. One site that has some useful tools is see-the-forest. I am including a chart I just made there. Unfortunately to get really useful data you need to be a paid user.

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  • Similar idea with Lex Machina -- good data, pay-to-use. – Gary S Mar 23 '15 at 20:36
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Check different patent database and make a note on your search. Here is a guide on how you can search for patents according to USPTO website.

  1. Brainstorm Terms Describing the Invention
  2. Index to the U.S. Patent Classification (USPC) System
  3. U.S. Patent Class Schedule in the Manual of Classification
  4. U.S. Patent Classification Definitions
  5. Retrieve and Review Issued Patents and Published Patent Applications Using the USPC Classification(s) Identified
  6. Find Relevant CPCs (Cooperative Patent Classifications) Using Statistical Mapping from USPC to CPC; Retrieve and Review U.S. Patent Documents
  7. Conduct a Classification Search of CPC Class Schemes on the EPO’s Espacenet Website to Find Additional CPC Classifications, if Needed.
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Anecdotal evidence suggests that patenting activity in the field of virtual reality has sharply increased in the recent past.

I would not use the US classification system for patent analytics anymore, as it is essentially obsolete and is being replaced by the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). All published patent applications and patents also have International Patent Classification (IPC) codes. Codes specific to virtual reality were recently introduced to reflect the increased activity in the area.

Here are some classification codes often used for VR-related documents:

Head-mounted Displays:
IPC: G02B27/01
CPC: G02B27/017

VR Input
IPC: G06F3/01,  G06F3/0354
CPC: G06F3/011, G06F3/0346

Head-mounted Displays:
IPC: G02B27/01
CPC: G02B27/017

3D graphics in general:
IPC: G06T19/00
CPC: G06T19/00 and also specifically G06T19/006 (mixed reality)

Games with virtual camera coupled to tracked HMD:
CPC / IPC: A63F13/5255, often in combination with A63F13/211

For more information see here: http://www.cooperativepatentclassification.org/cpcSchemeAndDefinitions/table.html

and here: http://www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc/en/

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