22 March 2020

Interactive Map: New Zealand Patent Applicants, 2017-2019

NZ Map PinIn my two previous articles I looked at patent activity in New Zealand: firstly, filing trends by domestic and foreign applicants over the past two decades; and secondly, leading patent applicants, recipients, and attorney firms in 2019.  While the data shows that patent filings by New Zealand residents have been in decline, I was curious to see how the domestic applicants that have still been using the system in recent years are distributed, geographically, around the country. 

By searching via the online patent search system provided by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ), it is possible to obtain tables of results that include addresses of applicants.  Usually these are physical addresses, although they can be distinct postal addresses (e.g. a post office box) or, more rarely, an ‘address for service’ such as a patent attorney or law firm.  Even so, in the vast majority of cases, the address returned is either an accurate representation of the applicant’s location, or a fairly good approximation to it.  I used the Google Maps Geocoding API to convert addresses into coordinates (i.e. latitude and longitude), and then into an interactive map using the Google Maps JavaScript API.

I am not sufficiently familiar with the geography and demographics of New Zealand to comment in the data with any authority.  However, it is fairly obvious (and unsurprising) that there is more activity on the North Island than the South, and that the highest densities of applicants and applications arise in the main centres of population and economic activity, i.e. Auckland and Wellington on the North Island, and Christchurch on the South Island.

Introduction to the Map

The map embedded below shows the geographical distribution of all domestic applicants that filed applications in New Zealand over a three year period between the start of 2017 and the end of 2019.  The map includes a drop-down menu in the top left-hand corner that is used to select between two data sets for display – applicants that used the services of a patent attorney versus those that filed their own applications.  You need to start by selecting one of these two sets before any data will be visible.  There are also the standard Google Maps zoom (bottom-right) and full-screen (top-right) controls.  I recommend switching to full-screen view to break out of the confines of the article column, and provide more space to explore! 

When a data set is selected, a corresponding collection of circular points is displayed, along with a map pin located roughly at the centre of the New Zealand land masses.  Clicking on the pin pops up a summary of the national totals, i.e. the number of applicants, and the aggregate number of applications collectively filed during the 2017-2019 three-year period.  Each of the circular data points represents applicants within (roughly) a 500 m radius, and clicking on any of these points pops up a corresponding summary.  The circles are colour-coded, from yellow (lowest) to red (highest), indicating the number of applications filed by applicants located within the corresponding area.  (Note that the actual numerical meaning of the colour-coding is scaled according to the range of values within the data set, and therefore may be different for each data set.)

The drop-down menu also allows you to clear the current data set, and to reset the map view (which, if data is displayed at the time, will automatically zoom to a view that encompasses all of the current data points).

Conclusion – Observations Welcome!

I hope you find some interest in exploring this map.  As I have already noted, my knowledge of New Zealand demographics is limited, and I would welcome any observations and insights from better-qualified readers, preferably in the comments below, or alternatively via the email link in the menu bar above.


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