The results of WIPO’s 2013 Intellectual Property Indicators Report were recently released, showing a tremendous rate of growth in the number of global patent filings over 2012. According to World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry, “Intellectual property, in general, is in a growth mode, and in a growth mode which is considerably in excess of either the national GDP growth rates or the world GDP growth rates.” The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filings increased by over 5% in the last year, and for the first time in history, over 200,000 patent applications were filed in one year, supporting Gurry’s statements about growth.
The two driving forces in this enormous increase were the United States and China, as they accounted for over 80% of the overall growth. Asian countries were also significant drivers – as China’s filings increased by over 16% and South Korea by 14%. This was primarily due to the Electronic and Digital communications sectors. Europe saw steady growth with the Netherlands (+17%) and Denmark (+8%) leading the charge. Europe also had the most applications per million inhabitants, reflecting their technological strength as a region.
WIPO’s Chief Economist Carsten Fink said that environmental technology patents were on the rise, including fuel cells and engines. This significant increase in patent filings by the automotive industry almost doubled in the last 3 years. As foreign patent filing continues to grow, companies and law firms must outsource various IP services in order to leverage buying power, gain efficiencies, and ensure full protection as they scale to new markets.