New record for international patent filings

July 16, 2012

Despite difficult economic conditions a new record number of PCT international patent applications were filed in 2011 (181,900 PCT applications - more than a 10% increase on the year before).

WIPO, the organisational body which oversees Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) international applications, has recently released its annual review of PCT activities and developments. The full review can be accessed here: Despite difficult economic conditions a new record number of PCT international patent applications were filed in 2011 (181,900 PCT applications - over a 10% increase on the year before). What's more, another milestone was reached in 2011 since it also saw the two millionth PCT application being filed. It took 26 years for the first one million PCT applications to be filed but only a further 7 years for the next million PCT filings. Several interesting statistics are provided in the review, such as the fact that since the PCT system was established in 1978 the United Kingdom has historically been the 4th largest filer of PCT applications (behind US, Japan and Germany). However, the number of PCT filings originating from the UK is currently decreasing each year. Another point of interest is that each PCT filing originating from the UK undergoes, on average, around 4 national or regional phase entries, i.e. typically 4 national or regional patent applications are derived from each UK originating international patent application. The review also reveals that a geographical shift is occurring in the use of the PCT system from North America and Europe towards Asia. Whilst the US still remains largest filer of PCT applications per year (followed by Japan, Germany and then China), both the US and Germany’s share of PCT filings are dropping whilst those of China and Japan are increasing rapidly. An international patent application is a single patent application that can be filed which facilitates the filing of patent applications in close to 150 countries. An international patent application does not directly of itself result in the grant of foreign patents. Instead national/regional patent applications, derived from the international patent application, must be filed and prosecuted before their respective patent offices. Notwithstanding this, an international patent application can be useful in delaying the costs of filing foreign patent applications in a large number of countries. Moreover, before the national/regional patent applications must be filed from the international patent application, an international search report is issued. The international search report is accompanied by a written opinion regarding the patentability of the invention. This can provide an insight into the chances of ultimately securing patent protection and help make the decision concerning national/regional patent application filings. Please contact Martin Terry for more details [email protected] or your usual contact at Swindell & Pearson Ltd.

Swindell & Pearson has been helping businesses and individuals protect and defend their ideas, innovations and brands for over 130 years. With its head office in Derby, the firm also has offices in Stoke, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Sheffield and Burton. To find out how Swindell & Pearson can help you with any intellectual property requirements please get in touch via [email protected] or by telephone on 01332 367 051.