For a typical U.S. company, the percentage of patents held outside the country might approximate its percentage of international revenue. Stated differently and with an illustration, if a third of its patents are ex-U.S., then its revenue from overseas might also be expected to be around a third. Companies pay to protect their patents in countries where they sell or manufacture their goods.
If my hunch is correct, international patent holdings could serve as a proxy for global trade. It would not only create a benchmark metric to be compared but would also give some insight into globalization and its effects on law department operations. Additionally, patent-related costs, ranging from lawsuits to headcount to disbursements for annuity fees account for a significant element of law department budgets. Patents also intrude on structure (chief patent officer) and leverage and technology.