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Monday, October 16, 2006

Asian Countries Lead The Patent Race

Courtesy of Paul Kedrosky saw the latest WIPO patent report. Each year, WIPO requests statistics from national patent offices, including the numbers of patents filed, granted and in force broken down by country of origin, date and a number of other criteria and this report is primarily compiled based on those collected data. The report provides analyses and highlights the significant trends in patenting activity. The WIPO Patent Report includes indicators to measure patenting intensity across countries. Three indicators are presented that weight patent filings by measures of country size and economic activity, namely population, GDP and research and development expenditure. The report finds amongst other things:

A. Patent filings have grown at an average annual rate of 4.75% over the past ten years, to a total of nearly 1.6 million in 2004. The growth rate is comparable to the overall increase in economic activity as measured by world GDP growth
B. The use of the patent system remains highly concentrated with only five patent offices (United States of America, Japan, European Patent Office, Republic of Korea and China) accounting for 75% of all patent applications and 74% of all patents granted.

A small number of countries account for the majority of patent filings, both by residents and by non-residents. Applicants from Japan and the United States of America are the largest filers of patent applications, followed by the large industrialized European states, the Republic of Korea and China. This distribution is changing over time, in particular as the Republic of Korea and China are becoming major industrial economies and the use of the patent system is growing quickly in the north east Asian region. China is accumulating patents – faster than Germany, typically Japan & korea gets more patents granted – together these asian countries corner more patents than any other block. The US continues to accumulate patents at a healthy rate. It is common knowledge that all patents need not be of equal importance.

Patent goes well beyond copyright and trademarks - It protects even the underlying concepts from being used by others. Some mistake rise of patenting with robust innovation – not true. The key challenge today is to go beyond the patent accumulation mode into one promoting innovation.

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