WIPO: China Leads IP Applications Worldwide Again; Asia Dominates IP Activities 23/11/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (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)The World Intellectual Property Indicators 2016 report sounds like a refrain, but with some superlatives when it comes to China, which became the first intellectual property office ever to register over a million patent applications in a single year, in 2015. Against a background of bleak global growth, IP activities are flourishing. As in recent years, Asia dominates the IP global activities, while lower middle-income countries seem to have been unable to reduce the technological gap, and remain almost left out of the IP activity. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry, speaking at a press briefing today and presenting the indicators, said there is a striking difference between the stalled global economic growth, and the dynamism of the IP activities in the world. China is the first patent office in the world to receive more than one million applications, and that is “quite extraordinary,” he said. Although most of the filings are made domestically, there is increasing activity in filing from Chinese inventors and creators outside of China. Gurry also underlined the “very solid performance” of India in 2015. Although not comparable with the numbers from China, in 2015 India saw a 6.5 percent rise in patent filings, 21.9 percent for trademarks, and 10.5 percent for industrial designs. Patents According to the indicators, some 2.9 million patent applications were filed globally in 2015, representing a 7.8 percent increase over 2014. China accounted for 84 percent of the total growth. Trademark applications rose by 15.3 percent to some 6 million in 2015, and industrial design applications grew by 2.3 percent to 872,800 in 2015. China led of all three types of IP applications, received 1,101,864 patent filings in 2015. It was followed by the United States (589,410), Japan (318,721), South Korea (213,694), the European Patent Office (160,028), Germany (66,893), India (45,658), Russia (45,517), Canada (36,964), and Brazil (30,219). Together, the top five offices accounted for 82.5 percent of the world total in 2015. Top technology fields for patent applications were: computer technology; electrical machinery, apparatus, energy; digital communication; measurement; medical technology; transport; pharmaceuticals; semiconductors; civil engineering, and audio-visual technology. Top patent applicants were: Panasonic Corporation; Canon Inc; Toyota Jidosha KK; Samsung Electronics Co Ltd; Toshiba KK; Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; Honghai Precision Industry Co Ltd; International Business Machines Corporation; Ocean’s King Lighting Science & Technology Co Ltd, and Sharp Corporation. Lower Income Countries Barely Participating According to the indicators, the lower middle-income group’s share of the world total patent applications (2.7 percent) has remained unchanged over the last decade. A number of offices such as India, Indonesia, and Vietnam have seen strong growth in numbers of applications received. The low-income country group accounted for less than 0.5 percent of the world’s total number of patent applications, both in 2005 and in 2015, said the indicators, adding that data are available for only 14 offices of low-income countries. Answering a question from Intellectual Property Watch on reasons why lower-income countries were not catching up with more developed countries, Gurry answered that it is a question of technological capacity. “We regret this,” he said. “The trend is not otherwise but it is a reflection of the technological capacity, and of course that is something that should concern us all, because we do not want technology to be a divider.” “We would like to see the capacity of lower-income countries in particular rise in this area,” he said. Carsten Fink, WIPO chief economist, added that in terms of share, since the world total is growing, filing volumes of lower-income countries are not necessarily stagnant. Gurry answering a question whether capacity building in developing countries might not have the necessary effect to increase the technological capacities, said he would be wary of drawing too many conclusions from general statistics. “What we are also seeing,” he said, “increasingly competition is conducted on the basis of intellectual property assets, and that means, of course, that competition is extremely fierce in that area.” “Most countries, and certainly the most leading economies, have innovation as a central plank of their economic strategy and that is where we see the competitors’ stakes played out,” he said, adding that in such context, “keeping up with that for anyone is a difficult matter.” On India seeing a rise in IP activities, Gurry said the emphasis India is placing on innovation, and the strategy of “Made in India” are reflected in the 2015 figures. Pending Applications Decline According to the indicators, the number of “potentially pending” patent applications globally fell from 6.24 million in 2008 to 5.1 million in 2015. This suggests that patent offices are getting more efficient, reducing pendency rates. The estimates given by the indicators is based on data from 109 offices. However, the figure would be higher if data on pending applications from the Chinese patent office were available, it said. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has the most applications potentially pending in 2015 (1.14 million), the indicators said, although slightly fewer than in 2014 (1.17 million). Trademarks According to the indicators, almost 6 million trademark applications were filed worldwide in 2015, a 15.3 percent increase from 2014. China accounted for 60 percent of the annual increase. The indicators underlined the fact that trademarks, unlike most other forms of IP, can be maintained indefinitely by payment of renewal fees. In 2015, an estimated 36.5 million trademark registrations were active at 130 offices worldwide, an 8.5 percent increase from 2014. The top offices receiving trademark applications in 2015 were China (2,828,287), the US (517,297), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (366,383), Japan (345,070), India (289,843), France (282,993), South Korea (236,168), Turkey (227,273), Russia (219,158), and Germany (210,176). The main fields in which trademark applications were received were: advertising and business management; scientific, photographic, measuring instruments, recording equipment, computers and software; education, entertainment, and sporting activities; clothing; scientific and technological services, design and development of computer hardware and software; coffee, tea, cocoa, rice, flour, bread, pastry and confectionery, sugar, honey, yeast, salt, mustard, vinegar, sauces (condiments) and spices; and pharmaceutical preparations, baby food, dietary supplements for humans and animals, disinfectants, fungicides and herbicides. The grouping of different products comes from the international trademark classes (areas) from which applicants can choose from to protect their mark. Industrial designs There was good news for industrial design applications, which according to the indicators rebounded after a sharp drop of 10.2 percent in 2014. An estimated 872,800 applications were filed worldwide in 2015, a 2.3 percent increase. According to the indicators, the 2014 decline was due to a pronounced decrease in filings in China, which had accounted for about two-thirds of the world total since 2010. The offices which received the most industrial applications were China (569,059), the EUIPO (98,162), South Korea (72,458), Germany (56,499), Turkey (45,852), US (40,128), Japan (30,351), Spain (17,855), France (13,997), and Switzerland (12,242). Applications were most filed in designs related to furnishings, clothing, packages and containers, according to a WIPO press release. Women Inventors Rising The indicators 2016 have a special section measuring women’s participation in international patenting. According to the document, “there has been considerable improvement in women’s participation in patenting. Despite this improvement, only 29% of all PCT applications filed in 2015 involved women inventors, which suggests that a significant gender gap persists.” The indicators also found that women’s participation in patenting is not equally distributed across countries. Countries such as China and South Korea have contributed substantially to the improvement in gender balance over the past 20 years, it said, however, “Germany, Japan and the US, although home to a large number of women inventors, each have low shares of women inventors relative to their total numbers of inventors.” “Improvement in gender balance in these countries will determine the rate of progress at the global level over the coming decades,” the indicators said. 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