China drives increase in patent filings: WIPO
Global patent filings grew at their fastest pace in almost two decades in 2012, with China the driving force, the UN's Geneva-based intellectual property agency said on Monday.
In its annual report on patents, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said patent filings rose by 9.2 percent last year, representing the fastest growth in 18 years, reaching an estimated 2.35 million.
Filings had contracted by 3.9 percent in 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, but have been picking up pace since then, rising by 7.6 percent in 2010 and 8.1 percent in 2011.
"These are well in excess of the rate of growth worldwide of the global economy, and well in excess of most economies' individual performances," WIPO head Francis Gurry told reporters.
For the first time, residents of China accounted for the largest number of patents filed throughout the world, hitting a total of 560,681.
Residents of Japan ranked next, with 480,000 filings, followed by US residents, who filed 460,000.
"As a broad generalisation, patent applications tend to track economic performance," Gurry explained.
"More specifically, China is still very much in a development mode, it is still developing its expertise in this area," he said.
"So enormous investment in research and development, enormous investment in education, and investment in knowledge infrastructure are also being reflected in the take-up in the use of the intellectual property system," he added.
With 652,777 filings, China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) last year logged the largest number of applications received by any single office, a position it first reached in 2011.
The figure included filings by Chinese residents as well as those by foreign firms and individuals seeking protection in China.
While two-thirds of the globe's patent filings were made in high-income countries, China's share of the total was almost 28 percent in 2012.
The US and Japan followed, with 23 percent and almost 15 percent respectively.
Overall, filings at China's SIPO rose 24 percent in 2012, followed by New Zealand, where the growth rate was 14.3 percent.
Next came Mexico, with nine percent, the United States, on 7.8 percent, and Russia, which saw growth of 6.8 percent.
Brazil also posted solid patent filing growth, logging a five-percent increase, with fellow BRICS members India showing 3.9 percent growth and South Africa 2.7 percent.
Fortunes were mixed in Europe.
Filings grew by four percent at the European Patent Office. The national offices of Germany and Britain also posted an expansion, of 3.2 percent and 4.4 percent respectively.
By contrast, filings in France fell by 0.7 percent and those in Italy by 4.2 percent.