2009 was a low point for international filings, marking the first year in the PCT’s 32-year history where patent filings decreased from the previous year. Perhaps a sign of an upswing in the global economic climate, WIPO reported a 4.8% increase in 2010 PCT filings over the previous year (162,900 applications filed in 2010 vs. 155,398 in 2009).
PCT Highlights of 2010
The United States remained number one on the list of PCT filers with an estimated 44,855 applications, easily surpassing second place Japan’s estimated 32,156 applications. Though the US kept their top-dog status, this total actually reflects a 1.7% decrease from 2009.
European countries didn’t fare much better, with negative growth rates seen in patent applications filed by France (-.6%), the UK (-3.7%), the Netherlands (-8.2%), Switzerland (-1.6%), Sweden (-11.6%), Italy (-.8%), and Finland (-2.2%). Out of the top 15 countries, the only European countries with positive growth rates were Germany (2.25%) and Spain (10.3%).
The number of patent applications from Asian nations continued to increase in 2010. The 32,156 applications filed by the aforementioned Japan in 2010 represent a 7.9% increase over their 2009 total. Even more notable are the numbers from China and South Korea. China’s 12,337 applications filed in 2010 represent a whopping 56.2% increase over their 2009 applications. But as eye-opening as China’s numbers are, some have questioned the quality of the applications originating from China. Equally impressive, South Korea filed 9,686 applications, a 20.5% increase from 2009. Looking at the list of top patent applicants, 6 of the top 10 filers originate from one of these three Eastern countries.
Did your international filings go up or down in 2010? Did you take more or less of these applications to the national phase? Did you enter more or less countries than you have in the past? We are finalizing our 2011 IP Trends survey and will have some results to share shortly on related topics for U.S. patent owners.