WIPO Reports Exceptional Growth from North East Asia in Record Year for International Patent Filings

February 7, 2006

Geneva, 06 Feb 2006

In a year that saw a record number of international patent filings, the Republic of Korea overtook the Netherlands as the 6th biggest user of the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and China dislodged Canada, Italy and Australia to take the position of 10th largest PCT user. In 2005, over 134,000 PCT applications were filed, representing a 9.4% increase over the previous year. The five top users of the international patent system remained unchanged, namely: United States of America, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. And, for the second year running, the most impressive rates of growth came from north east Asia – namely, Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, which between them accounted for 24.1% of all international applications, compared to 34.6% from the countries party to the European Patent Convention and 33.6% from the United States of America. The PCT is the cornerstone of the international patent system and offers a rapid, flexible and cost-effective way to obtain patent protection in the 128 countries that have signed up to the system.

"The rate of growth from Japan, Republic of Korea and China continues to be exceptional, reflecting the rapidly expanding technological strength of those countries. Since 2000, the number of applications from Japan, Republic of Korea, and China, has risen by 162%, 200% and 212%, respectively," said Mr. Francis Gurry, WIPO Deputy Director General who oversees the work of the PCT.

Inventors and industry from the United States of America represented 33.6% (a 3.8% increase over 2004) of all applications in 2005. Applicants from Japan, who unseated their German counterparts in 2003 for the number two spot, maintained their second place position with 18.8% of the total number of applications, representing a 24.3% increase. Germany held third position with 11.8% of all applications in 2005, representing a 4% increase, followed by France (4.1% of all applications and a 6.6% increase) and the United Kingdom (3.8% of all applications and a 1.5% increase). Among the fifteen top filing countries, others to achieve double-digit rates of growth were Australia (13th highest filer, with a rate of growth of 10.1% in 2005) and Finland (14th highest filer, with a rate of growth of 11.6% in 2005). Improved Services and Productivity

The considerable overall growth in the number of international applications resulted, Mr. Gurry said, not only from better economic conditions, but also from improved services and productivity within the PCT system, resulting particularly from the use of information technology. The number of applications filed electronically increased by 106.9% and filing on electronic media now exceeded paper filings. Information technology had also been successfully deployed in the movement of applications and associated data between WIPO and the various national and regional offices within the system. In addition, the deployment of full electronic processing of applications by WIPO had been successfully managed.

Mr. Gurry praised the commitment of the staff of the PCT, which processed an average of 536 international applications per working day. He said "there had been tremendous productivity gains in the past year within the PCT." Productivity improved by 18% using the measure of the number of international applications processed per employee, which had gone up from 213 per employee, to 253.

"The deployment of full electronic processing within WIPO for PCT applications not only resulted in major productivity gains at WIPO, but also assisted in making the world's technology available online for free-of-charge consultation," Mr. Gurry added. The WIPO website "PatentScope" now made available over 1.2 million international applications, representing the most important technological advances of the past twenty years, in fully searchable form for free consultation by all ( http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/).

The WIPO PCT receiving office also experienced significant growth in its activities in 2005, recording a 9.5% increase in the number of international applications filed directly with them. This represents 5.7% of all PCT applications received in 2005. The PCT receiving office provides applicants with an option to file their international applications directly with WIPO, rather than through the intermediary of a national or regional office. Top Filers

The 134,073 applications filed in 2005 (provisional estimate - WIPO continues to receive PCT applications filed with national offices in 2005 throughout the first half of the year), represents a 9.4% increase on the number filed in 2004. The Dutch multinational Philips Electronics N.V. was again the largest filer (an estimated 2,492 applications), followed by Matsushita (Japan) (2,021), Siemens (Germany) (1,402) , Nokia (Finland) (898), Bosch (Germany) (843), Intel (USA) (691), BASF (Germany) (656), 3M (USA) (603), Motorola (United States) (580), and DaimlerChrysler (Germany) (567). Among the 20 top filing companies, seven were from the United States of America, four from Germany and four from Japan. Developing Countries

International patent applications received from developing countries in 2005 saw a 20% increase as compared to 2004, representing 6.7% of all international patent applications filed. The list was topped by applications from the Republic of Korea with 4,747 applications, followed by China (2,452), India (648), South Africa (336), Singapore (438), Brazil (283) and Mexico (136). Several developing countries saw double-digit increases in their use of the PCT, notably the Republic of Korea, China and Mexico. Developing countries make up 79% of the membership of the PCT, representing 101 of the 128 countries that have signed up to the treaty to date.

The top ten users of the PCT from developing countries include: Samsung Electronics, (Republic of Korea), LG Electronics (Republic of Korea), Huawei Technologies (China), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (India), Ranbaxy Laboratories (India), LG Chem (Republic of Korea), Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (Republic of Korea), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (Singapore), ZTE Corporation (China) and NHN Corporation (Republic of Korea).

The main fields of technology in which PCT applications were published in 2005 are broken down according to the main technical fields of the International Patent Classification (IPC) - a system designed to facilitate the retrieval of technical information found in patent documents - and are outlined in Annex I. Applications can be filed in any language and are published in one of the following eight languages: Arabic (from April 1, 2006), Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish (for further information on IPC codes, please consult: http:///www.wipo.int/classifications/ipc/ ).


The PCT offers inventors and industry an advantageous route for obtaining patent protection internationally. By filing one "international" patent application under the PCT, protection of an invention can be sought simultaneously in each of a large number of countries. Both applicants and patent offices of PCT member states benefit from the uniform formality requirements, the international search and preliminary examination reports, and the centralized international publication provided by the PCT system. The national patent granting procedure and the related expenses are postponed, in the majority of cases, by up to 18 months (or even longer in the case of some offices) as compared with the traditional patent system. By this time, the applicant will have received important value-added information concerning the likelihood of obtaining patent protection as well as potential commercial interest in that invention.

The growth rate in the filing of PCT applications has been especially significant during the last nine years. It took 18 years from the beginning of PCT operations in 1978 to reach 250,000 total applications, but only four years to double that figure (500,000), and another four to double it again (1,000,000).

For further information, please contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs Section at WIPO:

Annex I


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World Intellectual Property Organisation
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