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PCT applications from many of the world's most advanced industrial nations plummeted in 2009, according to data released by WIPO today. The Geneva-based UN agency, reports that both the US (-11.4%) and Germany (-11.2%) saw falls of over 10%, as did Canada (-11.7%), Sweden (-11.3%) and Israel (-17.2%). There were also less steep declines in filings from the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Finland and Australia. Overall, the number of international filings dropped by 4.5% last year - the first fall since 1978, according to the Associated Press.
However, the story is not just one of decline. Both France and the Netherlands saw applicaitons rise; while the news from Asia was almost entirely positive. In addition to small percentage increases in applications deriving from Korea and Japan, there was a surge in demand from China, which has now become the 5th largest user of the PCT following a jump of over 29% in applications submitted by its companies. However, Huawei - which was the single biggest user of the PCT route in 2008 - lost top spot in 2009 to Panasonic.
I am sure that lots of headlines will be generated along the lines of declines in innovation and inventiveness in the US and elsewhere, just as the Chinese are getting a lot more innovative and inventive, and isn't this terrible and so on. But in reality, these stats in and of themselves are not really that indicative of anything other than companies in some countries clearly decided to spend less on filing patents internationally in 2009 than they did in 2008. It could well be that all the recession did was make them think more strategically about their IP. If that is the case, it is a good thing and long may it continue.
IP management, Patents
I agree. I wonder whether, now that the economic crisis is easing (in the US, at least), patent applications will start to sharply rise again -- or if perhaps companies and innovators will continue their recent trend of opting for quality rather than quantity, and keep filing fewer patent applications. We shall see.Gena Mason, General Patent on 16 Feb 2010 @ 00:51