PCT filings for 2007: cause for celebration or concern?

WIPO press release PR/2008/536, "Unprecedented Number of International Patent Filings in 2007", reports that there was an unprecedented number of international patent filings in 2007. This is no surprise, says the IPKat: since there are hundreds of thousands of numbers to choose from and the Patent Cooperation Treaty isn't that old, the chances are that almost any number of patent filings in 2007 -- whether large or small -- was going to be unprecedented in the sense that no precedent for it could be found in the statistics for previous years.

Right: "If all else fails", the patent attorney said, "we can always get it through the USPTO ..."

On a more serious note the press release reads:
"In a year that saw a record number of filings under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the cornerstone of the international patent system, inventors from the Republic of Korea (4th place) and China (7th) consolidated their top ten position in 2007, along with the United States of America (1st) , Japan (2nd), Germany (3rd), France (5th), United Kingdom (6th), Netherlands (8th), Switzerland (9th) and Sweden (10th). In total, a record 156,100 applications were filed in 2007, representing a 4.7% rate of growth over the previous year. For the fourth year running, the most notable growth rates came from countries in north east Asia which accounted for over a quarter (25.8%) of all international applications under the PCT".
The IPKat notes that the press release carries a lot of useful and thought-provoking data. Some of it is encouraging, some quite depressing. Thus it is good to see that the total number of Patent Cooperation Treaty states now stands at a record high of 138, following last year's accession of Angola and the Dominican Republic. It is however sad that, while growth over 2006 is up 4.7%, this is in effect entirely attributable to the increased filing activities of 14 of the world's top 15 patent filing nations (the exception being the Netherlands, which had a quiet year by its own inventive standards). Among the other 120+ countries that make up the "All Others" category, PCT filings fell by 2.6% -- a figure that can be explained away with smooth words and diplomacy but which should continue to trouble the conscience until it is reduced and ultimately eliminated. To give some idea of the gap between the 'invents' and the 'invent-nots', the tenth-best developed country, Sweden, filed an estimated 3,533 PCT applications; the tenth-best develeping country, Colombia, filed just 31.
PCT filings for 2007: cause for celebration or concern? PCT filings for 2007: cause for celebration or concern? Reviewed by Jeremy on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. I see no reason to be depressed.

    What should be noted is that the top 15 nations have changed considerably.

    Out of the current top 15, in 1996 Korea was in 19th place, Israel in 20th place, and China in 23rd place in the listings.

    In 1996 these three countries would therefore have been in the "all others" list. It is therefore a different "others" that are not inventing.

    There is an extremely high correlation between GDP/person and PCT filing rates [only the rich can afford such fripperies as PCT applications] and increased filing rates reflect growth in income.

    What has happened is growth that has made the system less distorted and more open to developing countries. In 1996 >42% of filings were of US origin - this is now down to 33.5%. This reflects a wider spread of wealth and is to be welcomed.

    So, people are coming in and going out of the league, and the top team is reducing its dominance.

    If not the best of all possible worlds, we do have a world that is getting better so far as wealth and propensity to patent is concerned.


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