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WIPO: Northeast Asia posts strong growth in patent filings

Posted: 20 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WIPO report? Northeast Asia? patent filings?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 2007 patent report, worldwide patent application filings hit a 4.7 percent annual growth rate with Northeast Asian countries, particularly South Korea and China, posting the highest growth. The report, based on 2005 figures, the last year for which complete worldwide statistics are available, also showed that patents granted worldwide rose by 3.6 percent.

The patent offices of Japan, the United States, China and South Korea, along with the European Patent Office (EPO), received the most patent filings, comprising 77 percent of all patents filed and 74 percent of all patents granted. Patent filings in China rose by 33 percent over 2004.

Big mover
Northeast Asia posted strong growth in worldwide patenting, both as a source of patent applications and as a target of non-resident patent applications from outside the region. Patent filings by residents doubled in South Korea and increased by over eight fold in China between 1995 and 2005. The patent office of China has the highest growth rate for resident (42.1 percent) and non-resident (23.6 percent) filings.

"Countries in Northeast Asia will most likely continue to challenge their counterparts elsewhere," said Francis Gurry, WIPO deputy director general. "A few years ago, they took the patent world by surprise, but it is now very much the expectation that countries like China and South Korea will continue their rapid developments in innovation, one indicator of which is the number of patent applications filed."

The report also showed international applications for the use of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) rose to 147,500, up 7.9 percent from 2005-2006. PCT is a multilateral pact that provides a simplified system for international patent filing. U.S. applicants are the largest filers of PCT international applications, followed by applicants from Japan and Germany. The number of PCT filings from Northeast Asian countries is likewise increasing rapidly, said the report.

However, this increase in patent filings also evokes the question of incremental workload at certain patent offices which, in some cases, has increased faster than their capacity to examine patent applications. The report cited the United States, which had over 900,000 patents pending in 2005. The Japan Patent Office also had over 800,000 patents pending in 2005, although this was largely due to changes in the time limit for examination requests, which created a temporary increase in the examination workload in Japan.

Shifting dynamism
Patent filings by residents rose 6.6 percent from 2004 to 2005. China posted the highest growth rate in resident patent filings (42.1 percent), followed by South Korea (16.1 percent), the United States (9.7 percent) and the EPO (4 percent). Japan patent filing by residents remained similar to that of 2004. Japan and South Korea had the highest rate of resident patent applications per capita at 2,876 and 2,530 patent applications respectively per million inhabitants.

Meanwhile, patent filings by non-residents grew by 7.6 percent from 2004 to 2005. According to WIPO, this reflects greater internationalization of commercial activity linked to technology and increasing international competition in innovation. China, India, Mexico, South Korea and the Russian Federation posted significant increases in non-resident patent filings.

The United States, Japan and Germany were the largest filers of patent applications in other countries, accounting for 57 percent of worldwide patent filings by non-residents. South Korea, China and India posted the highest increase in non-resident filings at 27.3 percent, 27.9 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively. Growth was also notable for Israel (11.1 percent), New Zealand (13.3 percent) and South Africa (10.6 percent).

Of the 600,000 patents granted in 2005, the U.S. patent office had granted the most number, followed by Japan, South Korea (up two places from 2004), China (up one place from 2004) and the EPO. The five offices account for 74 percent of all patents granted in 2005. Japan granted the largest number of patents, followed by the U.S., South Korea, Germany and France. Meanwhile, Japan and the United States owned 47 percent of the 5.6 million patents in force in 2005.

Growth sectors
The report reveals an increase in filings in the electricity and electronics sectors, which represented 32 percent of worldwide patent filings between 2000 and 2004. Patent filings in this field are concentrated in the patent offices of Japan, the United States, South Korea, the EPO and China. Medical, A/V and information technology were the three fastest growing technical fields, said WIPO.

In 2006, 23 percent of published PCT international applications were classified in three technical fields: telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and information technology. Based on published PCT applications, the semiconductors sector grew by 28 percent, followed by information technology (22 percent) and pharmaceuticals and cosmetics (21 percent).

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