International Patent Applications Recover From Economic Crisis

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International patent filings under WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) increased by 4.8% in 2010.

There has been strong growth from China (+56.2%), the Republic of Korea (+20.5%), and Japan (+7.9%), offsetting a mixed performance in European countries and a continued decline in the United States (-1.7%). Provisional data indicates that 162,900 international patent applications were filed in 2010 as compared to the 155,398 applications filed in 2009 (Annex 1).

 Despite the 1.7% fall in 2010, the United States remains the largest user of the PCT system (Annex 2) with 44,855 international applications, followed by Japan (32,156 filed applications) and Germany (+2.2%, 17,171). China (12,337) overtook the Republic of Korea (9,686) in 2010 as the fourth-ranked PCT filing country. France maintained its 6th place position (-0.6%, 7,193), followed by United Kingdom (-3.7%, 4,857), Netherlands (-8.2%, 4,097), Switzerland (-1.6%, 3,611), Sweden (-11.6%, 3,152), Canada (+7.1%, 2,707), Italy (-0.8%, 2,632), Finland (-2.2%, 2,076), Australia (-0.2%, 1,736) and Spain (+10.3%, 1,725).

Top Applicants (Annex 3)

Panasonic Corporation (Japan, 2,154) kept the top spot in the list of PCT applications published in 2010, followed by Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corporation (1,863), and Qualcomm Incorporated (USA, 1,677). A second Chinese company—Huawei Technologies (1,528)—occupies the fourth rank, followed by Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Netherlands, 1,435 applications), Robert Bosch GMBH (Germany, 1,301 applications), and LG Electronics (Republic of Korea, 1,298 applications).

The University of California (306) accounted for the largest number of applications published in the category of academic institutions. The top four university PCT users are from the United States (University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas and University of Florida). The number of Japanese academic institutions in the top 50 university ranking increased from 6 in 2009 to 10 in 2010 (Annex 4).

Fields of Technology (Annex 5)

Digital Communication saw the fastest growth (17.3%, 10,581 published applications) in 2010. This technical field accounted for the largest share of total PCT applications published in 2010 (up from the third largest share in 2009). Almost every other field of technology experienced declines or modest growth. The sharpest decline in patenting was seen in the field of telecommunications.

The main fields of technology in which PCT applications are published are broken down according to the International Patent Classification (IPC) – a classification system designed to facilitate the retrieval of technical information found in patent documents worldwide.

Background

The PCT offers inventors and industry an advantageous route for obtaining patent protection internationally. By filing one "international" patent application under the PCT, protection of an invention can be sought simultaneously in each of a large number of countries. Both applicants and patent offices of PCT member states benefit from the uniform formality requirements, the international search and preliminary examination reports, and the centralized international publication provided by the PCT system. The national patent granting procedure and the related expenses are postponed, in the majority of cases, by up to 18 months (or even longer in the case of some offices) as compared with the traditional patent system. By this time, the applicant will have received important value-added information concerning the likelihood of obtaining patent protection as well as potential commercial interest in that invention. The PCT has 142 member states.

Annexes

 

(1) PCT international applications – Top 15 countries

Ranking

Country

2006 

2007

2008

2009

2010 estimate

2010 percent

2010 growth

1

United States of America

51,280

54,043

51,637

45,618

44,855

27.5%

-1.7%

2

Japan

27,025

27,743

28,760

29,802

32,156

19.7%

7.9%

3

Germany

16,736

17,821

18,855

16,797

17,171

10.5%

2.2%

4

China

3,942

5,455

6,120

7,900

12,337

7.6%

56.2%

5

Republic of Korea

5,945

7,064

7,899

8,035

9,686

5.9%

20.5%

6

France

6,256

6,560

7,072

7,237

7,193

4.4%

-0.6%

7

United Kingdom

5,097

5,542

5,466

5,044

4,857

3.0%

-3.7%

8

Netherlands

4,553

4,433

4,363

4,462

4,097

2.5%

-8.2%

9

Switzerland

3,621

3,833

3,799

3,671

3,611

2.2%

-1.6%

10

Sweden

3,336

3,655

4,137

3,567

3,152

1.9%

-11.6%

11

Canada

2,575

2,879

2,976

2,527

2,707

1.7%

7.1%

12

Italy

2,698

2,946

2,883

2,652

2,632

1.6%

-0.8%

13

Finland

1,846

2,009

2,214

2,123

2,076

1.3%

-2.2%

14

Australia

1,996

2,052

1,938

1,740

1,736

1.1%

-0.2%

15

Spain

1,204

1,297

1,390

1,564

1,725

1.1%

10.3%

 

All Others

11,531

12,595

13,725

12,659

12,909

7.9%

2.0%

 

Total

149,641

159,927

163,234

155,398

162,900

 

 

(2) PCT international application by technical fields

 

Technical Field

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Increase
Compared
with 2009

I:  Electrical Engineering

1

Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy

7,000

7,874

8,933

8,972

9,143

1.9%

2

Audio-visual technology

4,723

4,893

4,736

4,405

4,245

-3.6%

3

Telecommunications

6,401

7,369

8,014

7,331

6,230

-15.0%

4

Digital communication

5,972

7,574

8,731

9,022

10,581

17.3%

5

Basic communication processes

1,302

1,360

1,462

1,396

1,273

-8.8%

6

Computer technology

9,916

11,208

11,708

10,268

9,540

-7.1%

7

IT methods for management

1,662

1,963

2,458

2,167

2,058

-5.0%

8

Semiconductors

4,339

4,681

5,039

5,612

5,847

4.2%

II:  Instruments

9

Optics

4,089

4,270

4,548

4,312

4,178

-3.1%

10

Measurement

5,947

6,547

6,844

6,746

6,377

-5.5%

11

Analysis of biological materials

1,717

1,747

1,800

1,864

1,759

-5.6%

12

Control

2,348

2,389

2,526

2,387

2,102

-11.9%

13

Medical technology

9,640

10,478

11,069

10,454

10,465

0.1%

III:  Chemistry

14

Organic fine chemistry

5,976

6,057

6,107

5,677

5,511

-2.9%

15

Biotechnology

4,875

5,120

5,287

5,285

5,206

-1.5%

16

Pharmaceuticals

8,680

8,797

8,968

8,473

7,843

-7.4%

17

Macromolecular chemistry, polymers

2,994

3,064

3,135

3,085

2,812

-8.8%

18

Food chemistry

1,582

1,575

1,685

1,525

1,525

0.0%

19

Basic materials chemistry

3,897

4,400

4,711

4,676

4,567

-2.3%

20

Materials, metallurgy

2,369

2,555

2,798

2,755

2,859

3.8%

21

Surface technology, coating

2,595

2,594

2,668

2,466

2,436

-1.2%

22

Micro-structural and nano-technology

196

246

305

350

342

-2.3%

23

Chemical engineering

3,349

3,464

3,790

3,625

3,564

-1.7%

24

Environmental technology

1,700

1,972

2,232

2,216

2,131

-3.8%

IV: Mechanical engineering

25

Handling

3,754

3,984

3,900

3,721

3,619

-2.7%

26

Machine tools

2,651

2,834

3,202

2,951

2,710

-8.2%

27

Engines, pumps, turbines

3,181

3,615

4,132

4,380

4,288

-2.1%

28

Textile and paper machines

2,513

2,233

2,300

2,159

1,944

-10.0%

29

Other special machines

3,580

3,655

4,086

3,981

3,741

-6.0%

30

Thermal processes and apparatus

1,594

1,856

2,129

2,359

2,379

0.8%

31

Mechanical elements

3,461

3,852

4,404

4,136

4,002

-3.2%

32

Transport

4,814

5,300

5,966

5,834

5,455

-6.5%

V: Other fields

33

Furniture, games

3,397

3,653

3,635

3,279

3,078

-6.1%

34

Other consumer goods

2,752

2,933

3,161

3,005

3,000

-0.2%

35

Civil engineering

3,577

3,847

4,337

4,411

4,354

-1.3%

(3) Published PCT international applications by top applicants

2010 Ranking

Position Changed

Applicant's Name

Country of Origin

PCT application published in 2010

Increased over 2009

1

0

PANASONIC CORPORATION

Japan

2,154

263

2

20

ZTE CORPORATION

China

1,863

1,346

3

2

QUALCOMM INCORPORATED

United States of America

1,677

397

4

-2

HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO., LTD.

China

1,528

-319

5

-1

KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS ELECTRONICS N.V.

Netherlands

1,435

140

6

-3

ROBERT BOSCH GMBH

Germany

1,301

-287

7

0

LG ELECTRONICS INC.

Republic of Korea

1,298

208

8

2

SHARP KABUSHIKI KAISHA

Japan

1,286

289

9

-3

TELEFONAKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON (PUBL)

Sweden

1,149

-92

10

-2

NEC CORPORATION

Japan

1,106

37

11

-2

TOYOTA JIDOSHA KABUSHIKI KAISHA

Japan

1,095

27

12

-1

SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT

Germany

833

-99

13

0

BASF SE

Germany

818

79

14

5

MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORPORATION

Japan

726

157

15

0

NOKIA CORPORATION

Finland

632

-31

16

-2

3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY

United States of America

586

-102

17

0

SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD.

Republic of Korea

578

-18

18

2

HEWLETT-PACKARD DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, L.P.

United States of America

564

10

19

-7

FUJITSU LIMITED

Japan

476

-341

20

-4

MICROSOFT CORPORATION

United States of America

469

-175

21

2

E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY

United States of America

452

-57

22

5

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION

United States of America

416

15

23

8

Article Published May 24, 2011