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    First-Ever Drop In Filings Under Patent Cooperation Treaty Seen In 2009

    Published on 8 February 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    International patent filings under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Patent Cooperation Treaty fell for the first time in three decades in 2009, owing to a deep economic downturn, WIPO officials said today. Overall patent filings fell 4.5 percent in 2009, but industrialised nations were particularly hard-hit, and are also expected to have slower growth rates in 2010 than emerging economies.

    “The impact of the [financial] crisis has been very uneven across the world,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry at a press conference on 8 February.

    This is the “first decline in PCT filings in an over 30-year history,” said WIPO Chief Economist Carsten Fink, adding this “is not entirely surprising given the depth of the economic downturn,” but it is still “something unprecedented in the PCT system.”

    The picture was more variegated at the national level. The biggest industrialised-country players in the international patent system saw major declines in their filings in 2009, with the US filing 11.4 percent fewer patents than in 2008, Germany losing 11.2 percent, Sweden 11.3 and Canada 11.7 percent of filings.

    But China increased its patent filings 29.7 percent, enough to surpass France and become the fifth largest patent filer to the PCT, meaning that now three of the top five are Asian states. The other two Asian nations in the top five also saw increased performance, though not as dramatic as China’s: Japan’s filings grew 3.6 percent and Korea’s 2.1. The WIPO press release, with a list of these statistics, is available here.

    Filings declined in traditionally patent-heavy areas of computer technology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology, the press release said, while new-growth areas nanotechnology and semiconductors saw growth.

    The International Monetary Fund also recently released an updated World Economic Outlook for 2010, which Fink said showed most projected economic growth for the year will also be in emerging economies. The IMF report predicts that “developing Asia” (a group of 26 countries including China, India, and Thailand) will perform particularly well, with China having the highest projected growth rate of 10 percent.

    At the last presentation of patent indicators, in September 2009, Gurry and Fink presented data showing an interaction between patent filing rates and economic cycles (IPW, WIPO, 20 September 2009).

    The PCT is a tool to aid companies in the process of filing for patents abroad, and accounts for most of WIPO’s funding, so there was concern that the 2009 declines might affect WIPO’s overall budget. But, the press release said, cost-cutting measures undertaken in preparation for this downturn should mean the organisation is well-prepared.

    Cost-cutting measures caused a bit of consternation at a September Programme and Budget Committee meeting in which some developing country member states felt there had been inadequate funds provided for new projects in WIPO’s Development Agenda. In the end, most of WIPO’s approximately CHF 7 million in unallocated funds were earmarked for development work (IPW, WIPO, 22 September 2009).

    Also in September, at a symposium of IP authorities, several key IP leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the PCT as the framework under which international IP cooperation should happen, and emphasised that other international work-sharing efforts (such as the information-sharing network the Patent Prosecution Highway and collaborative projects between the world’s largest 5 IP offices) should not interfere (IPW, WIPO, 17 September 2009 and 21 September 2009).

    Gurry also praised India’s “sophisticated Traditional Knowledge Digital Library,” a repository of prior art that has been licensed to the US Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office, as “a model we hope to establish in other countries around the world,” though there are no statistics related to traditional knowledge in the recently released report. There has been ongoing debate at WIPO and in other international fora over whether the IP system is the best place for protection of traditional knowledge, and a quote from Gurry at an earlier press conference “perpetual protection is not on the table” (IPW, WIPO, 22 October 2009) was picked up with concern by indigenous representatives.

    In 2010, Fink said he was “reasonably optimistic that there will be a modest recovery” in patent filings, but that there are “great amounts of uncertainty” attached to the predictions.

    Kaitlin Mara may be reached at kmara@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Gena777 says:

      I wonder whether, now that the economic crisis is easing (in the US, at least), patent applications will start to sharply rise again — or if perhaps companies and innovators will continue their recent trend of opting for quality rather than quantity, and keep filing fewer patents.

    2. This week in review … WIPO’s Gurry praises India’s TKDL « Traditional Knowledge Bulletin says:

      [...] under Intellectual Property, News alerts, Traditional knowledge, WIPO Leave a Comment  First-Ever Drop in filings under Patent Cooperation Treaty Seen in 2009 IP Watch, 8 February [...]

    3. Dr. Amy Eisenberg says:

      It is essential for China to respect and regard the international intellectual property of its global partners and play fair.

      We are deeply heartened that His Holiness, the Dalai Lama will be meeting with President Obama tomorrow.

      Bhod Gyalo
      Let there be open dialogue about human rights in Tibet.

      Sincerely,

      Dr. Amy Eisenberg
      World Care Project Manager for Tibetan Projects


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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