“We have essentially no patents in SpaceX. Our primary long-term competition is in China. If we published patents, it would be farcical, because the Chinese would just use them as a recipe book.”Elon Musk
“We have essentially no patents in SpaceX”, said Elon Musk in his an interview in 2017 which gave hints on SpaceX strategy to use the trade secret route to protect its core technology.
So if not the core technology, what type of inventions SpaceX is protecting through patents?
SpaceX portfolio has 72 patents that belong to 26 patent families. Most of SpaceX patents are focused on its Starlink Project which aims to beam broadband internet connectivity from Space. The company has permission to put 12000 Starlink satellites in Earth’s orbit and so far it has put 600 satellites into orbit.
Patent Filing Trend of SpaceX Patents
The exhibit below represent the patent filing timeline of SpaceX patents.
Technological Profile of SpaceX Patent Portfolio
To find the technological features, we categorized SpaceX patents based on CPC analysis. The number in exhibits below represents the number of patent families classified in a CPC. A patent family is a group of patent documents – globally or in a jurisdiction – that covers the same (or similar) information.
The patent portfolio of SpaceX has 72 patents that belong to 26 patent families categorized under 44 CPCs. We analyzed these CPCs to understand the technological profile of SpaceX’s patent portfolio. To let you know, more often a single patent gets classified into more than 10 CPCs which is the cause of the number of patent families categorized under different technology clusters exceeding the number of patent families which is 26.
The exhibit below represents the technological clusters of SpaceX’s patents. About 79.5% of SpaceX’s patents are focused on Starlink Antennas, 13.6% on printed circuits, and the rest on Transmission Systems, and Waveguides.
Thus, so far SpaceX is not filing patents for its core technology.
Stats Compiled By: Sachin Singh, Report Generation Team