International patent filings under WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) fell by 4.5% in 2009 with sharper than average declines experienced by some industrialized countries and growth in a number of East Asian countries. Provisional data indicates that 155,900 international patent applications were filed in 2009 as compared to the nearly 164,000 applications filed in 2008.
"The decline in PCT filings is not as sharp as originally anticipated – last year's results bring us back to just under 2007 levels, when 159,886 international applications were filed," said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. "Interestingly, the rate of decline in international filings is lower than that experienced in some national contexts. This is an indication of a broad recognition that it makes good business sense, whatever the economic conditions, to continue to protect commercially valuable technologies internationally."
International patent filings in a number of East Asian countries continued to enjoy positive growth in spite of the challenging global economic conditions. Japan, the second largest user of the PCT, experienced a 3.6% rate of growth with 29,827 applications; the Republic of Korea (ROK), ranked fourth largest user of the system, experienced 2.1% growth with 8,066 applications; and China became the fifth largest PCT user with a strong growth rate of 29.7%, representing some 7,946 international applications.
International patent filings experienced a sharper than average decline in a number of industrialized countries. For example, the filing rate dropped by 11.4% in the USA and by 11.2% in Germany in 2009. Declines were also experienced in the United Kingdom (-3.5%), Switzerland (-1.6%), Sweden (-11.3%), Italy (-5.8%), Canada (-11.7%), Finland (-2.2%), Australia (-7.5%) and Israel (-17.2%).
The United States of America (USA) maintained its top ranking, filing just under a third of all international applications in 2009 (45,790), followed by Japan (+3.6%, 29,827 applications), Germany (-11.2% or 16,736 applications), ROK (+2.1%, 8,066 applications), China (29.7%, 7,946 applications), France (+1.6%, 7166 applications), United Kingdom (-3.5% or 5,320 applications), the Netherlands (+3.0% or 4,471 applications), Switzerland (-1.6% or 3,688 applications) and Sweden (-11.3% or 3,667 applications). - WIPO