Like every other sector of business and industry, international patent filings were not immune to the effects of the recent global economic downturn. In fact, I had previously noted that 2009 marked the first year since the inception of the PCT wherein overall PCT filings decreased from the year before. Then we saw a slight increase last year from WIPO.
Following the same trend, the EPO recently announced their filing stats for 2010, and there is reason for some optimism. In 2010, the EPO received 235,000 patent applications (via both the PCT and Paris Convention), an 11% increase from the previous year.
“In 2010,” stated EPO President Benoît Battistelli, “there was an increase in demand for patent protection from every region of the world. After a two-year slump, the EU and US are nearly back to their levels of patenting before the crisis. This combined with a massive rise in patent applications from Asia ─ led by China ─ has made 2010 a record year at the EPO.”
Battistelli’s statements echo the sentiments of many respondents to our 2011 Global Patent & IP Trends Indicator. In this survey, we polled about 150 US companies and universities on their patent strategies and outlook going into 2011. Over half of the respondents indicated that they had pursued international patent protection last year, and that Europe was the region of highest priority.
However, the high costs of pursuing a patent in Europe can be prohibitive for many applicants. There has been much pressure from the IP community to enact a unified European patent system, though so far efforts have proved fruitless. In our research results, over 88% of respondents strongly favored such a system. It will be interesting to see the effect that a unified patent system will have on filing volume in Europe, if and when ratified.
For more information, please download the Indicator.