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August 4, 2008

2006 World Patent Review

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its 2008 statistical review. 2008 is the publication date. The statistics are for 2006. The highlights: a 4.9% rise in patent filings from 2005 to 2006, mostly in China, South Korea, and the U.S. Pendency, in other words, patent office inability to deal with workload, an increasing problem. Statistically more computer-related patent filings relative to biotechnology. 6.1 million patents in force in 2006, with increased opposition and validity challenges.

From WIPO (report: html; pdf) -

Worldwide patent activity increased by 4.9% between 2005 and 2006, mostly due to increased filings by applicants from China, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America

  • The total number of applications filed across the world in 2006 is estimated to be 1.76 million, representing a 4.9% increase from the previous year. Between 2005 and 2006, the number of filings worldwide by applicants from China, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America increased by 32.1%, 6.6% and 6.7% respectively.
  • The United States Patent and Trademark Office was the largest recipient of patent filings, for the first time since 1963, with a total of 425,966 patent applications filed in 2006. There was a small decrease in the number of patents filed at the Japan Patent Office in 2006 (408,674). The patent offices of China (210,501), the Republic of Korea (166,189), and the European Patent Office (135,231) also received a large number of filings.
  • Patent applicants tend to come from a relatively small number of countries of origin. For example, applicants from Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Germany and China accounted for 76% of total patent filings in 2006. Chinese residents increased their share of total worldwide patent filings from 1.8% to 7.3% between 2000 and 2006, mostly due to increases in domestic patent filings.
  • Although the number of patent applications filed across the world has increased at a steady pace, the rate of increase is less than the rate of increase observed for other economic indicators such as GDP and trade.
  • In 2006, approximately 727,000 patents were granted across the world. Similar to patent filings, patent grants are concentrated in a small number of countries. Applicants from Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea and Germany received 73% of total patent grants worldwide. Between 2000 and 2006, the number of patents granted to applicants from China and the Republic of Korea grew by 26.5% and 23.2% a year, respectively (average annual growth rate).
  • There has been an increase in the level of patenting activity in emerging countries. The patent offices of India, Brazil and Mexico all received a large number of filings in 2006. However, for the majority of the reported emerging countries, non-resident applicants accounted for the largest share of total filings in these countries. There has also been an increase in the use of the PCT System by emerging countries for international filings.

Increasing internationalization of the patent system

  • There has been a significant increase in the level of internationalization of patent activity as reflected by non-resident patent filings and international filings through the PCT System. The non-resident filings share of total patent filings increased from 35.7% in 1995 to 43.6% in 2006.
  • Non-resident patent filings originate from a relatively small number of countries, led by the United States of America (21.9% of non-resident filings worldwide), Japan (21.7%) and Germany (10.8%). The 8 largest countries of origin increased their share of worldwide non-resident patent filings from 66% to 74% between 2000 and 2006. Applicants from emerging economies, including China, file relatively few patent applications outside their home countries.
  • Many inventions result in filings in multiple offices. Approximately 24% of all patent families are filed in 2 or more offices. 10% of patent families are filed in 4 or more offices.
  • The level of internationalization varies across countries/economies. The share of non-resident patent filings is very high in the patent offices of Hong Kong (SAR), China, Israel, Mexico and Singapore - where more than 90% of total filings are accounted for by non-resident applicants. In addition, between 2005 and 2006, non-resident patent filings increased by 7.4%, whereas resident filings increased by 3.1%.
  • The number of international patent filings filed through the PCT in 2007 is estimated to be 158,400, representing a 5.9% increase from the previous year. Emerging countries such as India, Brazil and Turkey are increasingly using the PCT System to file international applications.

Approximately 6.1 million patents were in force in 2006

  • Approximately 6.1 million patents were in force in 2006. The largest number of patents in force were in the United States of America (1.8 million in 2006). However, the majority of patents in force were owned by applicants from Japan.
  • Both measures of patents in force, by country of origin (ownership of the patent) and by patent office (where the patent is in force), reflect an increase in the number of patents in force in 2006.
  • Although patent rights are conferred to the applicant for up to 20 years, available data show that only a minority of patents are maintained for the full 20 year term. More than half of the patents in force in 2006 were filed during the period between 1997 and 2003.

Increase in patent filings in computer technology, telecommunications and electrical machinery technologies, but a decrease in biotechnology

  • In 2005, a large number of patent filings were filed across the world in computer technology (144,594), telecommunications (116,770), and electrical machinery (121,350) technologies. Between 2001 and 2005, patent filings in computer technology, optics, and semiconductors grew by 5.3%, 5.0% and 4.9%, a year, respectively. There was a modest increase in pharmaceuticals filings (1.7%) and a decrease in biotechnology filings (-2.7%).
  • The recent pressures on energy resources have created an increase in patenting activity related to energy technologies. Examples can be seen in patent filings related to solar (thermal and photo) energy, fuel cells and wind energy. Patent filings in the fields of solar energy and fuel cells mainly originated from Japan. Patent applications in the field of wind energy were evenly distributed, with Germany and Japan being the top two countries of origin for this technology.

Large volume of pending applications at some patent offices

  • There has been an increase in the number of pending patent applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). By 2006, the number of patent applications awaiting examination at the USPTO was 1,051,502. There has also been an increase in the application processing time, as reflected by the increase in the number of months for first office action and total pendency time.
  • Between 2004 and 2005, there was a sharp increase in the number of pending applications at the Japanese Patent Office (JPO). In 2006, there were around 836,801 patent applications awaiting examination at the JPO. However, the increase at the JPO was mostly due to the shortening of the time limit for request for examination, from 7 years to 3 years, which has created an increased examination workload for a period of several years. Since 2005, the volume of pending applications at the JPO has stabilized and it is expected to decrease in the near future.
  • The number of pending applications at other large patent offices, such as Germany (265,395) the European Patent Office (247,165) and Canada (205,776), is relatively small (compared to the USPTO and the JPO) and has been stable over time.

Increased opposition and invalidation requests

  • In most of the reported offices, the numbers of opposition or invalidation requests are loosely correlated with the number of patents granted, the exception being Germany where requests have declined while the number of granted patents has increased. In general, there is an upward trend in the numbers of opposition or invalidation requests which may reflect an increasing interest in the challenging of granted patents by third parties.

Posted by Patent Hawk at August 4, 2008 6:52 PM | International