International Patent Filings At Record High; Rapid Asian Growth07/02/2007 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Much of our best content is available only to IP Watch subscribers. We are a non-profit independent news service, and subscribing to our service helps support our goals of bringing more transparency to global IP and innovation policies. To access all of our content, please subscribe now.By William New A record number of applications for international patents were filed in 2006, and Asian economies are leading the rapid growth, officials from the World Intellectual Property Organization said on 7 February.“There is still growth in the [patent] system, quite healthy growth indeed,” Gurry told a press briefing at the United Nations. In particular, “We are seeing an extremely strong growth in demand” from Japan, Korea and China.The key change from faster rates of filing in Asia is a problem of patent searches for pre-existing work increasingly needing to be in those languages. “We now have a much greater linguistic diversity” in technology production, Gurry said.These countries are filing more patent domestically, and are increasingly taking them to the international level. This represents “a very significant shift historically,” after hundreds of years of the dominance of European languages in patent applications, he said. It also means that companies and others wishing to view patented ideas increasingly will need to be able to handle those languages. Currently WIPO has eight languages and provides abstracts in English and French.Korea saw nearly 27 percent growth in international patent applications in 2006 compared with 2005 and passed the United Kingdom and France to become the fourth leading country of origin for PCT filings, WIPO said. Korea accounted for more than 4 percent of all international applications. China, which accounted for nearly 3 percent of all applications, saw 57 percent growth in a year and overtook Switzerland and Sweden for 8th place worldwide.The United States continued its overall dominance, with 34 percent of all applications, and saw 6 percent growth over 2005. Second on the overall list is still Japan, with 18.5 percent of all applications and 8 percent growth, followed by Germany with almost 12 percent of the global total and 6 percent growth. Italy and Israel also had double digit growth from 2005.Applications published in 2006 by sector saw fastest growth compared with 2005 of: 28 percent in semiconductors, 22 percent in information technology, 21 percent in pharmaceutical and cosmetics, and significant numbers for a variety of chemicals and materials. Notable declines were in space technology and weapons (minus 8 percent) and biotechnology (minus 5 percent). Gurry speculated that the biotech decline shows the rush to patent genes during the Human Genome Project “has worked its way through the system now.”By volume, the highest number of PCT applications published in 2006 were in telecommunications (10.5 percent), pharmaceuticals (10.4 percent). Many larger economies saw increases in their volume of patent filings, but decreases were seen in Brazil, India, New Zealand, Singapore and much of Europe, such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom.The top five applicants remained unchanged: Philips Electronics (Netherlands) was again largest with 2,495 applications filed in 2006, followed by Matsushita (Japan, 2,344), Siemens (Germany, 1,480), Nokia (Finland, 1,036) and Bosch (Germany, 962). The next five were: 3M (US), BASF (Germany), Toyota (Japan), Intel (US), and Motorola (US), WIPO said.But international patent applications from developing countries rose 27.6 percent in 2006 to a total of 8.2 percent of all applications filed. After Korea and China came India, Singapore, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico. The leading developing country PCT user was Huawei Technologies of China, a telecommunications firm, followed by electronics company Samsung of Korea. Eighth on the list was Ranbaxy Laboratories, an Indian generic pharmaceuticals producer. Last year was the first since India passed its new patent law.International applications are handled under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which is managed by WIPO, and extends patent protection to all treaty members. An applicant under the PCT receives a report on a search for pre-existing technology and an opinion on the viability of the idea. A “reasonably low” percentage of applications end up patented, Gurry said.If a company plans to file for patent protection more than five countries, it is more practical to use the PCT, mainly for cost reasons, said Gurry. An application to the PCT costs CHF 1540. Of the 183 WIPO members, 136 have joined the PCT. Key non-members include Argentina, Chile (expected to join this year) and Thailand, Gurry said. Some 48 percent of all international applications go through the PCT system, he said, adding that an applicant might not use the PCT if it is targeting only two or three foreign markets.The linguistic issue is being addressed in the WIPO PCT Reform Committee, which is expected to discuss it at its April meeting, he said. A proposal has been put forward to allow applicants to request a supplemental report on a linguistic basis, such as Chinese or Russian. This would provide a better assessment, Gurry said, adding that if accepted by the committee it could take effect next year.Going beyond the PCT, developed countries have been working within WIPO and on their own to further harmonise their patent systems to allow greater work sharing, but have so far been unable to overcome differences. William New may be reached at email@example.com. 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