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International WIPO Patent Filings Set New Record in 2011

post Wednesday April 11, 2012

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The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently released their 2011 patent filing statistics which showed a surprisingly high number of international patent filings given the current state of the world economy.  The WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) set a new record in 2011 with 181,900 international patent applications, a growth of 10.7% from last year.

The PCT was established in 1970, with the latest modification in 2001.  The treaty provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications in multiple contracting parties through filing just a single application with the WIPO.  This application may then be granted by each contracting party jurisdiction before it will be enforced in that jurisdiction.  The PCT system now has 144 member states. 

Among the nations who experienced the highest PCT patent applications were China, Japan and the U.S., who together accounted for 82% of the total growth.  Individually, China’s PCT patent applications experienced a 33.4% increase while Japan experienced a 21% increase and the U.S. experienced an 8% increase.  Though, with 48,596 filings, the United States remains the largest user of the PCT system. 

The company who was the biggest PCT filer of 2011 was Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corporation who overtook Panasonic Corporation (of Japan) with 2,826 published applications.  Other companies in the top 10 list of patent filings were Qualcomm (USA), Toyota (Japan), and LG (Republic of Korea).

Remember that patents differ from trademarks and copyrights as they protect inventions, as opposed to artistic works and symbols or names used to identify the goods of a specific manufacturer.  Patentable inventions, in order to receive protection, must be 1) novel, 2) non-obvious & not too general, and 3) capable of being applied in the field of industry.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said of the growth that “the recovery in international patent filings that we saw in 2010 gained strength in 2011”.  “This underlines the important role played by the PCT system in a world where innovation is an increasingly important feature of economic strategy. It also shows that companies have been continuing to innovate in 2011 – reassuring news in times of persistent economic uncertainty.”


[Source: WIPO website “International Patent Filings Set New Record in 2011”]


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles

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