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  3. International Patent Filings Showed Moderate Growth In 2008, Says WIPO

International Patent Filings Showed Moderate Growth In 2008, Says WIPO

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

28 January 2009

According to figures released by the World Intellectual Property Organization on Tuesday, international patent filings under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) grew by 2.4% in 2008, to nearly 164,000 applications.

While the rate of growth was modest, as compared to an average 9.3% rate of growth in the previous three years, the total number of applications for 2008 represented the highest number of applications received under the PCT in a single year, WIPO revealed, suggesting that:

"Continued use of the PCT, a cornerstone of the international patent system, indicates that companies recognize the importance of sustained investment in research, development and innovation to remain competitive even within challenging economic conditions."

The figures additionally showed that inventors from the Republic of Korea (+12.0%), China (+11.9%) and Sweden (+12.5%) enjoyed robust growth rates in their filing of PCT applications in 2008. The largest number of international PCT applications, just under a third of the total for 2008 (32.7% or 53,521 applications) were filed by inventors in the United States of America, maintaining a ranking that has spanned some thirty years.

“Historically, patent filings tend to dip during periods of economic difficulty simply because fewer resources are available for investment in the innovation cycle. Once the economic cycle improves, patenting activity tends also to recover. That said, economic crises have, in the past, been a catalyst for innovation as greater emphasis is placed on improving standards of efficiency, doing more with less and identifying and developing smarter business solutions,” explained Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO.

“In the current economic climate, technology, innovation and creativity are critical in creating opportunities for economic renewal and addressing pressing global issues such as climate change,” he added.

WIPO went on to announce that inventors and corporations from Japan, with 17.5% (28,774) of all filings, clinched the number two spot in 2008, followed by Germany (18,428), Republic of Korea (7,908) France (6,867), China (6,089), United Kingdom (5,517), Netherlands (4,349), Sweden (4,114), Switzerland (3,832), Canada (2,966), Italy (2,939), Finland (2,119), Australia (2,028) and Israel (1,882). In 2008, China improved its ranking by one place, to become the sixth largest user of the PCT.

WIPO also revealed that it had continued to receive international patent applications from developing countries in 2008. The largest number of applications received came from the Republic of Korea (7,908, as previously mentioned) and China (6,089) followed by India (766), Brazil (451), South Africa (382), Turkey (367), Mexico (210), and Malaysia (177).

Developing countries make up 78% of the membership of the PCT, representing 109 of the 139 countries that have signed up to the treaty to date.

“In the coming years, it will be a priority for WIPO to work closely with its member states to ensure that all countries are in a position to actively participate in the benefits of innovation and the knowledge economy and maximize their participation in the PCT,” observed Mr Gurry.

According to the WIPO 2008 figures, the largest proportion of PCT applications published in 2008 related to the medical technology (12.0%), computer technology (8.5%) and pharmaceuticals (7.9%) sectors. The fastest growing technology areas were information technology methods for management (showing a 22.7% increase) and micro-structures and nanotechnology (20.7%).

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