Record number of patent filings in 2007

26 Feb 2008 | News
A record 156,000 patents were filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2007, up 4.7 per cent over the previous year.

A record 156,000 patents were filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2007, up 4.7 per cent over the previous year, says the body running the treaty, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Cementing their position in the top ten were South Korea in 4th place and China in 7th. First was the US, followed by Japan 2nd, Germany 3rd, France 5th, UK 6th, Netherlands 8th, Switzerland 9th and Sweden 10th.

For the fourth year running, the biggest growth rates were in countries in north-east Asia, which accounted for 25.8 per cent of all international applications under the PCT.

“The growth in patent filings by a number of countries in north east Asia and their share of overall patenting activity is impressive and confirms shifting patterns of innovation around the world,” believes Kamil Idris, Director General of the WIPO. “It is most encouraging to see clear evidence that countries in the region are embracing the tools of the international patent system to stimulate commercial activity and economic growth.”

He added “The PCT remains an attractive option for businesses as it makes it easier for companies and inventors to obtain patent rights in multiple countries.”

Patent applications from South Korea grew by 18.8 per cent in 2007 over 2006, and the country overtook France to reach four in the league table. Meanwhile, applications from China grew by 38.1 per cent.

With more than 52,000 applications, the US represented 33.5 percent of the total, while Japan accounted for 17.8 per cent.

Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General of WIPO, who oversees the work of the PCT, said there have been tremendous efficiency gains in the delivery of PCT services over the last four years. “WIPO is handling an unprecedented volume of applications with lower staff numbers and is effectively responding to increased demands resulting from changing patterns of innovation.”

Top individual applicants

In terms of individual applications Matsushita of Japan took first place with 2,100 applications, overtaking Dutch multinational Philips Electronics, with 2,041. Siemens filed 1,644 and retained third place.

Huawei Technologies of China moved up 9 places to become the fourth largest applicant with 1,365 applications. It was followed by Bosch with 1,146, Toyota 997, Qualcomm 974, Microsoft, which jumped 38 places to eight place, with 845, Motorola 824 and Nokia, 822. Among the 20 top filing companies, six were from the US, six from Japan and three from Germany.

Fields of technology

The largest proportion of PCT applications were in telecommunications (10.5 per cent), information technology (10.1 per cent) and pharmaceuticals (9.3 per cent). As an interesting sign of these globally warming times, the fastest-growing technology area was nuclear engineering, which saw a 24.5 per cent increase, while telecommunications was up by 15.5 per cent.

Electronic submissions

Applicants are increasingly submitting applications electronically, with more than half filed by this means. A further 15 per cent were filed using WIPO’s PCT-EASY software The remaining 32 per cent were on paper. All PCT applications are now scanned on receipt at WIPO and processed electronically.

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 centralised 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 compared with the traditional patent system.

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