By Donald Zuhn --
Earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) announced that International patent filings under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) were back on the rise following the 2007-09 recession (see "PCT and EP Filings on the Rise Again"). In particular, WIPO noted that filings had risen 4.8% from 2009 to 2010. Last month, WIPO announced that filings would be up again in 2011, and that the number of international patent filings would set a new record. According to the WIPO announcement, an estimated 181,900 PCT applications were filed last year. Over the past five years, PCT filings look like this:
The United States is expected to hold onto the top ranking with 48,596 2011 filings, a 8% increase from the 45,008 applications that were filed in 2010. China again saw the strongest growth in PCT filings, with applications up 33.4% to 16,406 in 2011. Japan, Germany, and South Korea again rounded out the remainder of the top five with filings numbering 38,888 (up 21%); 18,568 (up 5.7%); and 10,447 (up 8.0%), respectively.
When sorted by technical field, the top five fields for PCT filings in 2011 were:
(1) Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy: 11,296 applications
(2) Digital communication - 11,574
(3) Medical technology: 10,753
(4) Computer technology: 10,455
(5) Pharmaceuticals: 7, 683
The fields of biotechnology and organic fine chemistry each had more than 5,000 filings, with 5,232 and 5,283, respectively. While the number of biotech filings rose slightly in 2011 from the 5,219 applications that were filed in 2010, the number of filings for organic fine chemistry was down in 2011 from the 5,511 applications filed in that field in 2010. Organic fine chemistry was one of only four of the PCT's 35 technical fields that saw filings go down in 2011 (at least as far as WIPO's 2011 estimates are concerned).
According to WIPO's figures, the top ten corporate PCT filers in 2011 were:
(1) ZTE Corp. (China) - 2,826 applications
(2) Panasonic Corp. (Japan) - 2,463
(3) Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (China): 1,831
(4) Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha (Japan): 1,755
(5) Robert Bosch GmbH (Germany): 1,518
(6) Qualcomm Inc. (U.S.): 1,494
(7) Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Japan): 1,417
(8) LG Electronics Inc. (South Korea): 1,336
(9) Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Netherlands): 1,148
(10) Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Sweden): 1,116
Biotech/pharma companies making WIPO's Top 100 filers list included: Procter & Gamble Co. (#24, 488 applications), Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd. (#27, 446), E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. (#29, 424), Dow Global Technologies Inc. (#34, 399), Novartis AG (#71, 200), F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (#75, 189), Merck Patent GmbH (#94, 171), Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GmbH (#96, 170), and Bayer CropScience AG (#99, 166).
The five university PCT filers in 2011 were:
(1) University of California (U.S.): 277 applications
(2) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.): 179
(3) University of Texas System (U.S.): 127
(4) Johns Hopkins University (U.S.): 111
(5) Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (South Korea): 103
The top three university filers in 2011 were identical to last year's top three.