International patent filings under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) grew by 2.4% in 2008, to nearly 164,000 applications. While the rate of growth was modest, as compared to an average 9.3% rate of growth in the previous three years, the total number of applications for 2008 represents the highest number of applications received under the PCT in a single year. Continued use of the PCT, a cornerstone of the international patent system, indicates that companies recognize the importance of sustained investment in research, development and innovation to remain competitive even within challenging economic conditions.
Inventors from the Republic of Korea (+12.0%), China (+11.9%) and Sweden (+12.5%) enjoyed robust growth rates in their filing of PCT applications in 2008. The largest number of international PCT applications, just under a third of the total for 2008 (32.7% or 53,521 applications) were filed by inventors in the United States of America, maintaining a ranking that has spanned some thirty years.
“Historically, patent filings tend to dip during periods of economic difficulty simply because fewer resources are available for investment in the innovation cycle. Once the economic cycle improves, patenting activity tends also to recover. That said, economic crises have, in the past, been a catalyst for innovation as greater emphasis is placed on improving standards of efficiency, doing more with less and identifying and developing smarter business solutions,” said Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO. “In the current economic climate, technology, innovation and creativity are critical in creating opportunities for economic renewal and addressing pressing global issues such as climate change,” he added.
Inventors and corporations from Japan, with 17.5% (28,774) of all filings, clinched the number two spot in 2008, followed by Germany (18,428), Republic of Korea (7,908) France (6,867), China (6,089), United Kingdom (5,517), Netherlands (4,349), Sweden (4,114), Switzerland (3,832), Canada (2,966), Italy (2,939), Finland (2,119), Australia (2,028) and Israel (1,882). In 2008, China improved its ranking by one place, to become the sixth largest user of the PCT. - WIPO