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International Patent Filings Recover in 2010

09-Feb-2011 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 6505

GENEVA - International patent filings under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)'s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) increased by 4.8% in 2010, with strong growth from China (+56.2%), the Republic of Korea (+20.5%), and Japan (+7.9%), offsetting a mixed performance in European countries and a continued decline in the United States (-1.7%).

According to WIPO, provisional data indicates that 162,9001 international patent applications were filed in 2010 as compared to the 155,398 applications filed in 2009.

“Overall PCT filings recovered from the economic crisis-induced drop in 2009, almost reaching their 2008 level,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “The fast growth rates from East Asia reflect acceleration in the geographic diversification of innovative activities. This trend has many implications, not least an increased linguistic diversity of the technology that patent offices use as a basis for determining whether an invention is patentable.”

Despite the 1.7% fall in 2010, the United States remains the largest user of the PCT system (annex 2) with 44,855 international applications, followed by Japan (32,156 filed applications) and Germany (+2.2%, 17,171). China (12,337) overtook the Republic of Korea (9,686) in 2010 as the fourth-ranked PCT filing country. France maintained its 6th place position (-0.6%, 7,193), followed by United Kingdom (-3.7%, 4,857), Netherlands (-8.2%, 4,097), Switzerland (-1.6%, 3,611), Sweden (-11.6%, 3,152), Canada (+7.1%, 2,707), Italy (-0.8%, 2,632), Finland (-2.2%, 2,076), Australia (-0.2%, 1,736) and Spain (+10.3%, 1,725).

Top Applicants

Panasonic Corporation (Japan, 2,154) kept the top spot in the list of PCT applications published in 2010, followed by Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corporation (1,863), and Qualcomm Incorporated (USA, 1,677). A second Chinese company—Huawei Technologies (1,528)—occupies the fourth rank, followed by Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Netherlands, 1,435 applications), Robert Bosch GMBH (Germany, 1,301 applications), and LG Electronics (Republic of Korea, 1,298 applications).
The University of California (306) accounted for the largest number of applications published in the category of academic institutions. The top four university PCT users are from the United States (University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas and University of Florida). The number of Japanese academic institutions in the top 50 university ranking increased from 6 in 2009 to 10 in 2010.

Fields of Technology
Digital Communication saw the fastest growth (17.3%, 10,581 published applications) in 2010. This technical field accounted for the largest share of total PCT applications published in 2010 (up from the third largest share in 2009). Almost every other field of technology experienced declines or modest growth. The sharpest decline in patenting was seen in the field of telecommunications.

The main fields of technology in which PCT applications are published are broken down according to the International Patent Classification (IPC) – a classification system designed to facilitate the retrieval of technical information found in patent documents worldwide.

The PCT offers inventors and industry an advantageous route for obtaining patent protection internationally. By filing one "international" patent application under the PCT, protection of an invention can be sought simultaneously in each of a large number of countries. Both applicants and patent offices of PCT member states benefit from the uniform formality requirements, the international search and preliminary examination reports, and the centralized international publication provided by the PCT system. The national patent granting procedure and the related expenses are postponed, in the majority of cases, by up to 18 months (or even longer in the case of some offices) as compared with the traditional patent system. By this time, the applicant will have received important value-added information concerning the likelihood of obtaining patent protection as well as potential commercial interest in that invention. The PCT has 142 member states.

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