WIPO Shows Record Growth Across International IP Filing Systems

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“Intellectual property, in general, is in a growth mode, and in a growth mode which is considerably in excess of either the national GDP growth rates or the world GDP growth rates,” World Intellectual Property Organisation Director General Francis Gurry said today.

At a press briefing in Geneva launching WIPO’s latest reports, Gurry presented the estimated number of filings under WIPO’s international IP filing systems for 2013. All three systems (the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Madrid system for trademarks, and the Hague system for industrial designs) experienced “considerable growth” in 2013.

These numbers are an “indication of the use of IP around the world by different entities,” said Gurry.

US and China Drive Record Filings Under PCT

The PCT experienced a growth rate of 5.1 percent in 2013 as compared with the preceding year. For the first time, there were more than 200,000 patent applications filed in one year. It is also the IP system with the most number of participants – 150 countries.

“The PCT is one of the best measures of the output of innovation of a corporation at the international level,” Gurry said.

Gurry pointed to the US and China as the “principle drivers” of patent growth this year, together accounting for over 80 percent of the growth. The US filed an estimated 57,239 patents and Japan 43,918 patents in 2013. After these two countries, China stands in third place and for the first time overtook Germany.

Gurry emphasised the “extraordinary” increase in growth of the leading Asian countries – China, Japan and South Korea – which accounted for 25 percent of the total share of PCT applications in 2007 and increased to 38 percent in 2013. [corrected]

No other developing countries are in the top 10 countries for patent applications. Of developing countries, India saw the greatest number of patents filed in the PCT (1,392 patents), followed by Turkey (835), Brazil (661), South Africa (350) and Malaysia (310).

In response to this, Gurry explained that it “requires considerable time, investment and development in order to have the technological capacity to be able to compete on that.”

The findings “reflect that to become a producer of new state of the art technology, it requires an enormous effort across the whole of the economic system to construct a well functioning innovation ecosystem. That goes for everything from having an educational system through to having capital markets,” he said.

When asked whether the findings show that the patent system does not benefit all, Gurry responded: “Innovation does benefit us all, our quality of life is improved significantly by innovation. We depend upon innovation in order to be able to respond to all social challenges we face as a society.”

He also pointed to the “meteoric” rise in patent filings in China since 30 years ago when it established its patent law, to now overtaking Germany. He recognised that development is slower in other countries, but there is development, in Singapore and India for example.

Looking at individual companies, Panasonic moved into first place again (as it has previously been first), surpassing ZTE in second place, last year’s top filer, and Huawei in third place. Gurry emphasised the country of origin of these companies: Japan, followed by 2 Chinese companies.

For university users, Gurry said: “in the top 10, all but one of them are American institutions.”

Significant growth in patent filings was noticed in the car manufacturing industry. Filings have almost doubled in the last 3 years, said Gurry, suggesting “lots is going on in the automobile industry in terms of innovation.”

WIPO Chief Economist Carsten Fink said that the most important area of development in this industry relates to engine technology (fuel cells [corrected] and hybrid engines) and adapting information technology to the needs of the car.

Fink noted that some of the big US car companies are not using the PCT system to the same extent as Japanese companies, so he advised against making comparisons between companies using PCT filings as an indicator. But he does believe the statistics reflect growth trends in this industry.

Steady Increase in Applications for Industrial Designs

Applications for industrial designs under the Hague system reached 2,990 in 2013, increasing by 14.8 percent since 2012. In total, these applications encompass 13,172 designs, as an application can contain up to 100 industrial designs.

Switzerland, Germany and Italy were the top three countries for industrial design filings in 2013, filing 662, 643 and 419 applications respectively. These three countries accounted for 58 percent of the total Hague system applications, according to a WIPO press release.

Swiss company Swatch was for the second consecutive year the top applicant for protection under the Hague system, with 113 applications, followed by Philips (Netherlands, 82 applications) and Procter & Gamble (United States, 76 applications).

Gurry announced that he expects the Hague system to grow very significantly in the coming 12 months, as South Korea, United States, Japan, Russia and China could join the system, which he said will help them become much more globalised.

New Members Drive Rise in Trademark Applications

Under the Madrid system of international registration of marks, 46,829 applications for international protection of trademarks were filed in 2013, representing a growth rate of 6.4 percent.

However, “this evolution does not give as accurate a reflection as the PCT system” of global IP growth in the area of trademarks, said Gurry, because several countries recently joined the Madrid system, such as India, Mexico, the Philippines and New Zealand.

Swiss company Novartis was the top company to file trademarks, filing 228 trademark applications in 2013, followed by the Zentiva Group (Czech Republic, 114 applications) and Egis Gyógyszergyár (Hungary, 111 applications).

Germany (6,822 applications), United States (6,043 applications) and France (4,239 applications) were the top three countries of origin of trademark registrations.

Computers & electronics (9,978), services for business (8,432), and technological services (6,112) were the top classes of trademarks reflected in applications. But the fastest growth in 2013 related to trademarks filed for pharmaceuticals and other preparations for medical purposes, and foodstuffs of plant origin.

The countries and areas in which applicants most seek to protect their trademarks are in China, Russia and the EU.

Switzerland’s Notable Performance; Big Increase for Turkey

Gurry singled out the notable performance of Switzerland, as the top applicants of the Hague and Madrid systems were Swiss companies. Moreover, Switzerland came 8th for PCT filings, 1st for design applications and 4th for trademark applications. “It is a position well above its weight in terms of population and economic growth,” Gurry considered.

The greatest growth of international IP applications filed by middle-income countries was seen in Turkey. It showed an increase of applications under the PCT of 56.1 percent since 2012, a less significant increase under the Madrid system of 1.67% and despite a minor decrease in applications under the Hague system for industrial design, Turkey occupies 7th place.

A press release on the event and further statistics can be found here on the WIPO website.

Maëli Astruc may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

Julia Fraser may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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