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2023 US Unicorns Patents
December 1, 2023

What is a unicorn company?

Unicorn companies are private companies with valuations exceeding $1 billion. As of October 2023, 45 companies worldwide reached unicorn status during the year, 23 of which are headquartered in the US.

Recognizing the importance of having IP assets early on may attract more investors and funding as their technology is protected. A joint study by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) highlights that startups with patents and trademarks at the early growth stages are 10 times more likely to secure funding.

On the other hand, successful funding rounds may easily put a target on their backs and subject them to patent infringement claims and costly patent litigation

 

Only 22% of US unicorns in 2023 have patents

UnicornFounding YearValuation ($B)Latest series fundingIndustry
Lyten20151.3Series BAdvanced materials
Gradiant20131Series DSustainable technology
Our Next Energy20201.2Series BSustainable energy storage
BitGo20131.75Series CCryptocurrency
KoBold Metals20181Series BAI systems for mineral exploration
*Series funding data from crunchbase.com

In this report, we looked at the list of US companies that reached unicorn status in 2023. Among the 23 based in the US, our research revealed that only five of them have existing patents and patent applications under their name. These are Lyten, Our Next Energy, Gradiant, BitGo, and KoBold Metals.

Lyten

Lyten is an advanced materials company with products such as lithium-sulfur batteries, 3D graphene composites, and AI-enabled IoT sensors. Lyten has successfully raised $200 million, during its Series B financing last Septembers 2023, which raised their total equity funding to $410 million. This came from multiple investors including Prime Movers Lab, Stellantis, Honeywell, and FedEx.

Lyten stands out from our list with the biggest patent portfolio, with a total of 108 patent families comprising 367 patents and patent applications. Furthermore, in December 2018, they acquired over 40 patent families from Provenance, the company which facilitated the sale of Nokia patents. 

An analysis of Lyten’s patent portfolio shows that the majority of the inventions disclose battery systems, lithium-sulfur batteries, and carbon allotropes. Find out more about Lyten’s patenting activity, jurisdictions in which it has filed patents, as well an analysis of some of its notable patents in our latest report: 2023 Patent Roundup: US Unicorns.

 

Gradiant

Founded in 2013, Gradiant is a water solutions company that uses sustainable and cost effective techniques for wastewater recycling and treatment. The company has proprietary technology for targeted contaminant removal that involves physical and chemical treatments. In May 2023, Gradiant closed its Series D financing, raising $225 million led by BoltRock Holdings and Centaurus Capital. This substantial funding brings Gradiant’s total investment to over $400 million and elevates its valuation to $1 billion.

 

Our Next Energy

Our Next Energy (ONE) is a sustainable energy storage company founded in 2020. Its product line includes lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery packs made for cars and small trucks as well as LFP-based power grids for factories, data centers, and communities. Complementing these products, ONE has 17 patent applications relating to powering an electric vehicle, battery packs, and life cycle of lithium metal and anode-free cells.

 

BitGo

Established in 2013, BitGo is a digital asset financial services company. In the same year, they launched their multi-signature wallets and later on introduced the use of a technology called TSS or Threshold Signature Scheme, a bitcoin security model to protect wallets from theft and loss. In August 2023, BitGo secured a $100 million investment in a Series C funding round, propelling the company’s valuation to $1.75 billion. In October 2023, BitGo acquired digital asset management platform, HeightZero,. This made BitGo one of the first digital asset companies to offer a comprehensive solution for wealth managers. 

 

KoBold Metals

KoBold Metals is a sustainable mineral exploration company founded in 2018. Its AI technology combines statistical modeling, big data aggregation, and ore-deposit science to speed up the discovery of metals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, and lithium. In June 2023, KoBold Metals secured $200 million in funding for AI-driven copper and lithium mining initiatives which made the company hit a $1 billion valuation.

KoBold Metals’ patent applications all disclose a muon detector that is capable of providing high resolution readings in an exploratory well.

 

To find out more about the 2023 US unicorns’ patenting activity, jurisdictions wherein they have sought patent protection, and analyses of their notable patents and patent applications, download our latest report: 2023 Patent Roundup: US Unicorns.

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