Last Thursday, in an apparently innocent post entitled "Stats from Norway", the IPKat published the thoughts of the pseudonymous Norman regarding a sudden decline in the number of Norwegian patent applications.
"As an avid Norwegian reader of your blog, I am somewhat surprised by the coverage of Norway lately. In your latest posting you asked whether anyone could see why the decline has been so large, I would actually have a few educated guesses. Briefly on my background, I have worked with an agency for a number of years before now working at a TTO [the IPKat assumes this stands for 'Technology Transfer Office' and not 'Trondheim Tourist Office' or some such] for the past few months. I evidently don’t have that much industry experience, although I am opinionated.The IPKat sees the correspondent's point, and wonders whether readers from any other 'marginal countries' would like to offer their thoughts and comments. Merpel says, Norway is the most marginal country in the world: it seems to consist almost entirely of borders and edges.
First, Norway is a marginal market. Thus, given the crisis, it makes sense to exclude the marginal markets first. A full filing in Norway is expensive, full translation needed, expensive agents, high costs all round, thus I would postulate that in times of crisis Norwegian patent applications would not easily be prioritized. This would explain the rapid decline of filings in the latter half of last year.
Secondly, if one looks at the numbers 2007 was actually an exceptional year, possibly having the highest number of filings of any time. A decline from a very high level to a level more or less the same as previous years makes sense in times of crisis.
Thirdly, one of the major contributions to the decline are the “yellow” applications. This is perfectly natural. Instead of filing directly into the Norwegian national phase, the applicant has the possibility to file directly in to the European national phase, less costly, covers more ground, and might actually be a freebie, if you intend to file in Europe. There is a decline of 400 applications in this regard.
In conjunction with a small decline in the national filings, probably due to the crisis, I would consider the total decline perfectly explainable.
Thus instead of trying to explain the decline by assuming that applicants are clueless, I would explain the decline by the applicants being rational. I find this more satisfying. After all, this isn’t the first time a country has joined the EPO. They have managed the transition in earlier years, so why assume that they can’t now?
As a final point, the redundancies at the offices are one of the natural responses to the major upheavals we are facing in Norway in preparation for a significant proportion of the PCT applications to be filed at the EPO instead of at NIPO. This will evidently greatly influence the patent agent industry, in particular those agencies dependent on the foreign applications. Some have 95 % of their work from these applications, and they will need to adapt or die".