By Donald Zuhn --
Patent services provider inovia has released its fifth annual report on global patent and IP trends. In compiling "The 2014 U.S. Global Patent & IP Trends Indicator," inovia, which produces products for PCT national phase entry, European patent validation, and patent translations, surveyed more than 100 companies and universities in May 2014 to identify the trends having the greatest impact on the foreign filing strategies of U.S. patentees.
The 2014 report notes that 20.4% of survey respondents are involved in the pharmaceuticals or biotech industries. Other sectors or groups represented in the survey include chemicals/materials (13.6%), electrical/electronics (7.8%), mechanical/engineering (12.6%), IT/software/media (1.9%), and university/association/non-profit (16.5%). The report also indicates that 24.3% of survey respondents had no in-house patent attorneys or agents, 51.5% had one to four attorneys or agents, 11.7% had five to nine attorneys or agents, 4.9% had ten to 24 attorneys or agents, and 7.8% had 25 or more attorneys or agents. With respect to the number of in-house patent attorneys or agents, the trend was towards increasing numbers of in-house practitioners (in last year's report, 33% of survey respondents had no in-house patent attorneys or agents and 47% had one to four attorneys or agents, and in the 2012 report 37% of respondents had no in-house patent attorneys or agents and 46% had one to four attorneys or agents). Also, fewer respondents experienced IP budget cuts in 2013 than in 2012, and fewer respondents brought some prosecution activies in house in 2013 (dropping to 45% of respondents in 2013 from 57% of respondents in 2012).
Not surprisingly, the 2014 report indicates that for U.S. applicants, patent reform was the dominating issue in 2013. With respect to filing expectations, 79% of respondents said they filed as many patent applications as they expected to file in 2013, 6% filed more than they expected, and 14% filed less than they expected. In last year's survey, 73% of respondents said they filed as many applications as expected in 2012, 11% filed more, and 16% filed fewer, and in the 2012 survey, 67% of respondents said they filed as many applications as expected in 2011, while 18% filed more and 15% filed fewer.
The 2014 report indicates continued growth for international patent protection, as 52.6% of respondents filed more than half of their patent applications abroad (up from 50% in last year's report and 42% in the 2012 report). Respondents were also less selective with their filings abroad in 2013, with 12.4% of respondents filing corresponding applications in only 1-3 foreign countries and another 30.9% filed internationally in 4-19 countries. In last year's survey, 22% of respondents drew the line at 1-3 foreign filings and 32% filed in only 4-19 countries, and in the 2012 survey, 37% filed corresponding applications in only 1-3 foreign countries.
With regard to the countries in which respondents regularly filed, 20% added new countries to their list (down from from 23% in 2012), with China now considered a regular destination for many U.S. applicants. A smaller percentage of respondents (15%) dropped countries from their lists (down from 19% in 2012), with respondents noting that market opportunity in Japan, Australia, and Canada was dwindling, prosecution was becoming more onerous in Saudi Arabia and too expensive in Japan. As in last year's survey, respondents who dropped the European Patent Office believed that the high cost of pursuing such protection did not justify the value. In ranking foreign jurisdictions, respondents placed Europe, China, and Japan first, second, and third, respectively, which was the same ranking respondents provided in the last two reports. Finally, the report noted that a large majority of respondents (96%) rely on the PCT for foreign filing. Of these respondents, 71% selected the EPO as an International Searching Authority (down from 75% in 2012), 45% selected the Korean IP Office (KIPO) (down from 50% in 2012), and 11% selected the Japan Patent Office (JPO) (no change from 2012).