Thursday, December 22, 2011

China overtook Japan to become the 2nd largest recipient of patent applications in 2010

The World IP Report, which contains detailed statistical information on national and international data up to 2010, shows that China and the US accounted for four-fifths of the 7.2% worldwide growth in patent filings.

The US patent office saw 7.5% growth in 2010 - after two years of near zero growth - and received the largest total number of applications (490,226).

The patent office of China (391,177 filings) overtook the office of Japan (344,598 filings) to become the second largest recipient of patent applications in 2010. This mirrored wider economic trends in a year in which China overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world, as measured by GDP.

The majority of the top 20 offices saw growth in applications in 2010, in contrast to 2009. Double digit growth was reached in China (24.3%), the European Patent Office (12.2%), Singapore (11.9%) and the Russian Federation (10.2%).

In the past decade, the patent office of China has seen the most dramatic increases in application levels. Between 2001 and 2010, annual growth averaged 22.6%, with patent filings rising from 63,450 in 2001 to 391,177 in 2010.

Applications at the patent offices of middle and low-income economies also rebounded strongly in 2010 after falling in 2009. Colombia, Malaysia, Philippines, Ukraine and Vietnam saw double-digit growth in applications in 2010.

The Report also analyzes the numbers of filings by resident applicants. These show similar trends, with Chinese residents (293,066 applications) overtaking Japanese residents (290,081 applications) to become the most active patent filers in 2010.

Residents of Japan (172,945 applications) and the US (178,355 applications) filed, by far, the largest number of patent applications outside their own country. However, residents of Canada, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland filed more than 80% of their total applications abroad. Residents of China, on the other hand, filed only a small proportion (5%) of applications abroad.

Looking at patenting activity across different technology fields, the Report shows that computer technology, electrical machinery, audio-visual technology and medical technology accounted for the largest shares of patent filings worldwide. However, the relative importance of different technology fields varied substantially across countries. Broadly defined information communications and technologies (ICTs) accounted for the largest share of filings in Finland and Sweden, with pharmaceuticals more prominent in Belgium, India and Switzerland.

Patents granted (as distinct from patent applications filed) have recorded uninterrupted growth since 2000. In 2010, the total number of grants worldwide stood at 909,000 - an additional 100,000 grants over 2009 or growth of 12.4%. Resident grants accounted for two-thirds of the total increase. The patent offices of Japan and the US accounted for around 80% of total growth. The majority of the top 20 offices issued more patents in 2010 than in 2009.

The number of “potentially pending” patent applications across the world totaled 5.17 million in 2010, - a 3.3% reduction over 2009. The world total is based on data from 70 patent offices, which include most of the top 20 offices (with China among the exceptions). The patent office of Japan saw a significant reduction (-20%) in pending applications undergoing examination 2010. The EPO (-6.9%) and the US office (-2.3%) also had fewer pending applications in 2010 compared to 2009. Medium-sized offices, such as Chile (-11.6%), Israel (-8.8%), Mexico (-3.6%), Poland (-14.6%) and Ukraine (-5.9%) also saw considerable reductions in pending applications. -WIPO

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