WIPO Hails 2 Millionth International Patent Application 15/04/2011 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment IP-Watch is 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. You also have the opportunity to offer additional support to your subscription, or to donate. In its slick new office building in Geneva, the World Intellectual Property Organization this week celebrated the 2 millionth patent filing under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which it manages. In the foyer with white clad windows, a crowd was assembled to hear the praise of the international patent filing system. Qualcomm, a United States start-up turned global telecommunications giant in part due to patents, was the happy recipient of the certificate of the 2 millionth filing. In the modern foyer surrounded by glass panels, see-through corridors and office spaces, Qualcomm representatives, staff of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) department, permanent mission representatives, and journalists were invited to the ceremony on 14 April. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry told the gathering that the PCT is one of the “unfortunately few instances of successful international cooperation.” It took 26 years to reach 1 million applications and only 6 years to reach the second million, he said. The PCT relies on all member states in order to function, Gurry said. Patents are filed through national or regional offices, then at WIPO for the international phase, which is performed not only by WIPO, but also by international search authorities and preliminary examining authorities, of which there are now 18, he said. Those authorities have considerable political, cultural and linguistic diversity. After the international phase, applications go back to national or regional patent offices, which take a sovereign decision as to whether or not a patent should be granted, he said. The year the PCT was concluded, 1970, was the same year the floppy disk was invented, Gurry said. That year, member states foresaw the importance of innovation, the global nature of innovation, and the necessity to have some form of international cooperation to increase the efficiency of the patent system as a tool of economic policy in support of innovation, he said. Qualcomm has filed about 9,000 patents under the PCT, Gurry said. It was the third largest filer in 2010, and has been among the top 20 companies filing patents since 2006. Patent System Brings Social Benefits, Qualcomm Says Donald Rosenberg, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Qualcomm, said it was an “historic event” and highlighted the importance of intellectual property in the global economy and “the brisk dissemination of technical innovations as a direct result of those patented inventions.” The diffusion of technologies has a social benefit, he said, taking as example the 2 millionth PCT patent application recognised this week. The technology is a “Qualcomm invention that will help emergency responders locate victims indoors through wireless navigation, in areas where traditional GPS signal reception is more difficult,” he said. “WIPO plays a key role in supporting patent applicants, including inventors, universities, research institutions as well as innovative companies such as Qualcomm in their drive to establish the value of their IP and disseminate technologies for the benefit of billions of people around the world,” Rosenberg said. The ability to transform its inventions into a business success “was a critical factor that took us in 25 years from a small start-up of seven people to a global Fortune 500 company with operations in 146 locations,” he said. The mobile phone has become the largest information platform in the history of mankind, according to Rosenberg, and global broadband technology has profound implications for consumers, businesses and governments worldwide. ”I cannot stress enough how strong IP rights make this global proliferation of mobile innovation possible,” he said. He did not mention that Qualcomm has been involved in an acrimonious and expensive legal war over its patents, involving other technology companies – especially Nokia – that claim their ability to provide their products and services to consumers were impinged by Qualcomm patent claims and licensing terms (IPW, Information and Communications Technology, 31 July 2008). Licences Lead the Way As a start up, Qualcomm “made the critical decision to licence its patent portfolio in order to enable as many companies as possible in the wireless value chain to take advantage of our inventions. The value of our portfolio was reflected in the royalties these companies were willing to pay for their licences,” he said. Qualcomm has now more than 190 licences. The process of risk, reward and reinvestment has been characterised as a virtuous cycle of innovation, invention, licensing and global diffusion of inventions, he said, adding that Qualcomm has spent about 20 percent of its annual revenue on research and development. The Qualcomm business model creates a value chain, and enables economies of scale resulting in decreasing costs, he said. For example, India is experiencing some of the lowest prices for 3G service (high-speed access to voice and data technology) in the world at less than 2 euros per month, he said. Every privately owned mobile operator in India has launched a 3G network providing the public with affordable and capable smart phones previously considered premium devices. The company also has launched a Wireless Reach programme based on the belief that people’s access to mobile access can improve peoples’ life, which brings wireless technology to underserved and underconnected communities. The programme now includes 64 projects in 27 countries, he said. US Government Applauds Patents Betty King, the US ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said WIPO helped creators and inventors advance human knowledge and well-being. Successful start-up technology companies “flourish in our free enterprise system, with our approach to the protection of intellectual property rights,” she said. The US strategy for innovation recognises the essential role of innovation in past and future prosperity, King said, stressing the essential importance of the private sector as the engine of innovation and the role of government in supporting the US innovation system. She quoted US President Obama saying, “now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.” A video of a presentation by Qualcomm Chairman and CEO Paul E. Jacobs is posted on the WIPO website here. William New contributed to this story. Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Hails 2 Millionth International Patent Application" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.