Filing of patent applications under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty enables companies to secure patent protection in various countries. It is a measure for knowledge-based economy and a barometer to judge the spread of innovation-based companies in each country.

The international patent filings under the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) reached 1,81,900 applications in the year 2011, experiencing a fastest growth of 10.7 percent compared to a 4.8 percent growth in the year 2010, despite difficult global economic conditions.

The US tops the list with maximum number of filings (48,596) thus continued to be the largest user of the PCT system, followed by Japan with 38,888, Germany with 18,568, and China with 16,406 filings. While India figured nowhere in the top 15 countries that have dominated filing of patent applications under the WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty.

The Chinese global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions “ZTE Corporation” filed the maximum number of applications (2,826) in the year 2011. China, Japan and the United States of America (US) accounted for 82% of the total growth. Beside this, US-based mobile technology company Qualcomm filed 2 millionth PCT application.

However, the US (-0.7%) and Germany (-0.5%) saw drop in their shares of total filings, while China (+1.5) and Japan (+1.8) each increased their share by more than a percentage point.

ZTE Corporation of China overtook Panasonic of Japan (2,463) as the top patent applicant in 2011. Rounding out the top 10 were: Huawei Technologies (China), Sharp (Japan), Robert Bosch (Germany), Qualcomm (United States), Toyota (Japan), LG Electronics (Korea), Philips (Netherlands), and Ericsson (Sweden).Each of the top five applicants saw double-digit growth in published PCT applications. Five Japanese companies – Panasonic, Sharp, Toyota, NEC, and Mitsubishi – feature in the top 15-list.

Of the top 50 educational institutions with filings, the top filer being the University of California, which published 277 applications, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with 179, the University of Texas System (127), Johns Hopkins University (111) and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (103). US universities account for 30 of the top-50 educational institutions, followed by Japan and the Republic of Korea with 7 institutions each.

Numbers for the largest developing countries apart from China also tended to increase. Brazil rose from 488 to 572 applications; Chile from 88 to 118; Colombia from 46 to 57; India from 1,286 to 1,430; Mexico from 191 to 227; Singapore from 641 to 671; South Africa from 295 to 308; and Turkey from 480 to 541. Other notables in general were Russia, jumping from 798 to 964, Saudi Arabia from 81 to 147, and Ukraine from 109 to 138.

PCT filings by fields of technology , Digital communications with 11,574 (or 7.1% of total) published applications remained the field of technology accounting for the largest share of total PCT applications in 2011, followed by electronic machinery (6.9%), medical technology (6.6%) and computer technology (6.4%). Most technology fields experienced growth in patenting in 2011 such as Electronic machinery (23.2%) saw the fastest growth, but 11 other fields also experienced the double-digits growth. In addition to this only 3 fields saw a decline in filings, including basic communication processes (-5.9%), organic fine chemistry (-4.1%), and pharmaceuticals (-1.9%).

For both medical technology and pharmaceuticals, the majority of the reported origins have a positive (above-average concentration) of Relative Specialization Index (measure of innovative strength), with India and Israel showing the highest RSI values for medical technology and pharmaceuticals, respectively. The RSI values for food chemistry and environmental technology are more evenly distributed across countries.

”This underlines the important role played by the PCT system in a world where innovation is an increasingly important feature of economic strategy. It also shows that companies have been continuing to innovate in 2011, reassuring news in times of persistent economic uncertainty,”

In general, the statistics show that international patent protection continues to be sought mainly by the very largest economies worldwide. Most small economies who are members of the PCT had zero or one filings, with no sign of improvement over past five years. Meanwhile, large middle-income economies such as Russia, Brazil and India recorded double-digit filing growth. Even Northern African and Middle Eastern countries experiencing political turmoil last year generally saw decreases, such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Syria. Thailand also dropped, from 72 to 66.

Patenting activity is an indicator of innovation and India has seen a remarkable rise over the years in patent filing. Although it stands sixteen positions behind its foreign counterparts, India has tremendously shown a double digit increase of 11.2 percent from its previous figures. But even though India’s overall performance in filing patent applications during the last five years has remained nearly stagnant. At times when industrialized countries, especially the US and the Chinese companies made spectacular strides, there are no Indian companies listed in the first top 99 applicants.

Compared to the five big offices, the patent offices of Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico and the Russian Federation show relatively low application volumes. India, with the most dramatic growth, saw its application level increase from 8,538 in 2000, to 34,287 in 2009. However, three BRIC countries – namely China (16.8%), India (5.8%) and the Russian Federation (3%) – saw growth in application numbers. But the growth rate of patent application shows a decline of -6.9 % in year 2009-10 as compared to the top 20 offices. Residents of China, India and the Russian Federation accounted for a small share of applications in all offices, reflecting the fact that these countries file only a small fraction of their total applications abroad.

Note: The actual numbers of patent application and grant data by country of origin might be higher than the data reported above, due to incomplete data and/or because a breakdown by country of origin is not supplied by some offices. Patent office codes: AU (Australia), BR (Brazil), CA (Canada), CN (China), DE (Germany), EP (European Patent Office), FR (France), GB (United Kingdom), HK (China, Hong Kong (SAR)), JP (Japan), KR (Republic of Korea), MX (Mexico), RU (Russian Federation), SG (Singapore) and US (United States of America).

Source: WIPO Statistics Database, October 2011.

The business sector is prominent for applications originating in India and Turkey. Individuals account for a small share of total applications in India. Whereas Government/research institutions account for a very low share and universities accounting for almost negligible amount of total applications. In India, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the top PCT applicant (Government and research institutions) in year 2008, 2009, and 2010 with 49, 63 and 56 applications filed, but stood 307 rank in world. A majority of Indian (65%) and Belgium (49%) inventors named in PCT applications were associated with foreign PCT applicants in 2010.  In India, there are about 37,334 patents are still in force in 2010. The opposition and invalidation of patent granted both pre- and post- has dramatically decreased from 2008 to 2010.

A number of factors may account for the worldwide growth in filings, but three factors stand out as potentially determinant: multiple filings for the same invention, changes in research and development (R&D) productivity, and patenting in new technological areas. New inventions are the main factor behind growth in filings originating in China, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation. For these countries, the contribution of multiple filings is less than 30%, reflecting the fact that applicants from these countries mostly file domestically. Whereas India contributes more in service sector as compared to the production sector, therefore it lags behind in Filing PCT applications.

Patents have been used as an indicator of technical change by connecting them to counts of innovations, new chemical entities, and subsequent measures of profits or growth. The net effect will be the strengthening of the country’s economy. This way of using patent data is only in its beginnings and we are likely to see a much wider use of it in the future. Interestingly, India showed the highest five-year growth (13.5%) from 2005 to 2009 and ranks third in worldwide ranking in Trademark filing.

The business of branding products has been part of ordinary economic life for a long time. They play a very crucial part in the process of marketing an innovation, helping to differentiate the attributes and content of goods and services in the marketplace. These characteristics make trademarks a potential new indicator of product innovation and sectoral change. The filing of new trademarks reflects the introduction of new offerings aimed at persuading potential buyers that the range of their problems was not solved by the supply of solutions previously available in the market.

India can increase its innovation output dramatically by focussing on research based approaches like subject specific assignments, dissertations and industry specific projects in every discipline like science, engineering and Business. We should also make efforts toward independent research, dissertation with rigorous research influencing analytic capabilities, etc. By offering exclusive rights for a limited period, an inventor can recover R&D costs and investments. It also promotes investment to commercialize and market new inventions so that the general public can enjoy the fruit of the innovation.