Asia On The Heels Of US And Europe In Patent Applications At WIPO; Developing Countries Lagging16/03/2016 by Catherine Saez, 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.China, Japan and South Korea are among the top five countries filing international patent applications at the World Intellectual Property Organization, while the United States continues to lead in patent and trademark applications. Far behind, developing countries seem to be having a hard time catching up. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry presents latest statistics at UN Press RoomAccording to WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, speaking at a press briefing today, Asia accounted for some 43 percent of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications in 2015, which is “quite an extraordinary figure,” he said.Gurry said the degree of fidelity of the indicators depends on the membership of the systems. For example, he said, the patent system is the most complete and includes 148 countries, the trademark system (Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks) includes 113 countries, while the “least mature”, the Hague system for designs (Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs) has only 40 member countries.PCT: US, Asia LeadingPCT applications grew in 2015 by 1.7 percent, according to Gurry, making it the sixth consecutive year of growth after the global financial crisis, with 218,000 international patent applications. “The major story, I suppose,” he said, is the continuing trend of growth from Asia.The top 10 countries filing under the PCT in 2015 were the US (57,385), Japan (44,235), and China (29,846), followed by Germany, South Korea, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden.According to a WIPO press release, the US has filed the largest annual number of international patent applications for 38 years running. Patent-filing activity by China-based innovators accounted for much of the overall growth in applications, according to the release.Computer technology and digital communication saw the largest numbers of filing in 2015, each exceeding 16,000, according to the release.The top 10 PCT applicants are Huawei Technologies (China), Qualcomm (US) , ZTE (China), Samsung Electronics (South Korea), Mitsubishi Electric (Japan), Ericsson (Sweden), LG Electronics (South Korea), Sony (Japan), Philips Electronics (Netherlands), and Hewlett-Packard (US).Educational institutions filing were dominated by US institutions, with eight US universities among the 10 top filers: University of California (361 published applications), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (213), John Hopkins University (170), the University of Texas system (163), Harvard University (158), Tsinghua University in China (102), and University of Tokyo, Japan (101).Far Behind: Africa, Latin America, Is the Gap Widening?If one compares the 57,385 US applications, the 44,235 applications from Japan, 18,172 from Germany and 14,626 from South Korea to some estimated numbers for developing countries, such as 11 for Kenya, 71 for Iran, 320 for Mexico, 25 for Peru, 15 for Panama, and none for Venezuela, it shows a stark contrast.Even the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries, except for the staggering 29,846 applications for China, are far behind the lead group. Estimated figures for 2015 show 1,423 for India, 792 for Russia, 547 for Brazil, and 314 for South Africa.WIPO adopted a Development Agenda in 2007, aimed at increasing the development orientation of the UN agency, but its effect does not appear to show in patent filing within the countries.“It is true that there is a relative stability in the top filers,” said Gurry. “What we are measuring here is output of technological capacity. It does reflect the differences in technological capacity around the world, but we are aware of that.”“Is the asymmetry changing that exists with respect to technological capacity?” he asked. “I think it is changing, but it is a slow process, because to innovate, you require a whole infrastructural ecosystem which is very broad-ranging.” It ranges from everything from the education system through to business sophistication, he said.“It is not surprising that there is no sharp movement in this area, apart from China, where there has been a dramatic change in a relatively short period of time” he added.“Whether the differences are getting greater or not is a major question to which I would prefer not to hazard an answer on, because I think that is a crucial question for the world,“ he said. It would have to be measured very carefully before making a guess at whether the differences are getting greater or not, Gurry said in answer to a question from Intellectual Property Watch.“What we do know is that technology and knowledge more generally form an increasingly important component of wealth generation in the economy,” he said. The speed at which technology is developing is accelerating and “that makes the catch-up task even more difficult.”Trademarks: US, EU, LeadMeanwhile, international trademark applications rose by 2.9 percent in 2015, according to Gurry, just short of 50,000 (49,273). According to the WIPO release, the US and Australia accounted for 90 percent of total growth.The top 10 countries from which trademark applicants came were: the US (7,340), Germany (6,831), France (4,021), Switzerland (3,051), United Kingdom (2,730), Italy (2,706), China (2,401), Japan (2,205), Australia (2,058), and the Netherlands (1,306).Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis claimed the pole position in the top filers, which are: Novartis (Switzerland), Lidl (Germany – retail), L’Oréal (France), Philips Electronics (Netherlands), Richter Gedeon Nyrt (Hungary – pharmaceutical company), Boehringer-Ingelheim (Germany – pharmaceutical company), Apple (US), Daimler (Germany – automobile industry), Biofarma (France) – Glaxo Group Limited (UK).According to the release, China, the US, and EU countries are the most designated member countries in international registrations. India and Mexico, which are newcomers to the system already rank in the top ten designated countries in which applicants seek protection, according to the release.According to WIPO figures, many developing countries do not have a significant number of applicants to the international process, while a number of foreign international applicants seek protection in those countries. For example, one applicant from Algeria applied for protection under the Madrid international application in 2015, while 1,987 applicants sought protection in Algeria.Some 10,569 international applicants sought protection In Mexico, while 91 Mexican applicants sought international protection. There were no applicants from Ghana in 2015 under the Madrid system, while 1,634 applicants sought protection in that country.Industrial Designs See 40 Percent Growth in 2015Industrial designs apply to the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an object. The international applications for industrial design grew by 40 percent in 2015, the fastest rate since 2008, according to WIPO. This in part is linked to the fact that three major economies joined the system in the course of the last two years: the US, Japan, and South Korea, Gurry said.Top 10 countries were: Germany (3,453), Switzerland (3,316), France (1,317), South Korea (1,282), Italy (1,186), US (1,039), The Netherlands (765), Austria (497), Japan (411), and UK (391).The top position used to be occupied by Swiss company Swatch but last year was claimed by Samsung Electronics, with 1,132 designs, followed by Swatch, Fonkel Meubelmarketing (Netherlands), Volkswagen (Germany) and Procter & Gamble (US).Asked by Intellectual Property Watch if the currently negotiated industrial design treaty would be likely to help raise the number of applications, Gurry said it does not seem the treaty would have much of an influence on filing activity in the Hague system.“What it will do,” he said, “is to make it easier for designers to obtain protection around the world for designs because they will not have to contend with such perplexing complexity of procedural requirements in making an application.”WIPO members have been discussing a potential treaty on industrial designs in the Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (SCT) for several years. The last WIPO General Assembly in October decided [pdf] that the SCT should continue work on the basic text of the treaty and that a diplomatic conference (high-level treaty negotiation) should be held at the end of the first half of 2017, should two remaining issues be resolved in 2016.The two remaining issues are about technical assistance and a disclosure requirement on the origin of the design where applicable, in the industrial design application (IPW, WIPO, 19 November 2015). Image Credits: Catherine SaezShare 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)RelatedCatherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Asia On The Heels Of US And Europe In Patent Applications At WIPO; Developing Countries Lagging" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.