By Donald Zuhn --
Patent services provider RWS inovia recently released its seventh annual report on global patent and IP trends. In compiling "The 2016 U.S. Global Patent & IP Trends Indicator," RWS inovia, which produces products for PCT national phase entry and European patent validation, and provides IP translations and search services, surveyed more than 100 companies and universities in May 2016 to identify the trends having the greatest impact on the foreign filing strategies of patentees around the world.
The 2016 report notes that 68% of survey respondents are from the U.S. and 32% are from Europe. In addition, the report provides the following industry breakdown for survey respondents: mechanical/engineering (16.8%), university/association/non-profit (15.9%), pharmaceuticals or biotech industries (14.0%), electrical/electronics (10.3%), IT/software/media (8.4%), and chemicals/materials (6.5%) (the remaining 28% of respondents were classified as "other," which encompasses manufacturing, telecommunications, teaching/research, consulting, pest control, and mining). With regard to the size of respondents, the report notes that 37.4% of respondents had one to 100 employees, 19.6% had 101 to 1,000 employees, 32.7% had 1,001 to 10,000 employees, and 10.3% had more than 10,000 employees. The report also indicates that 37.4% of survey respondents had no in-house patent attorneys or agents, 48.6% had one to four attorneys or agents, 6.5% had five to nine attorneys or agents, 5.6% had ten to 24 attorneys or agents, and 1.9% had 25 or more attorneys or agents.
The 2016 report indicates that for U.S. applicants, fallout from the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank ruling was the dominating issue in 2015, and for European applicants, the unitary patent was the main topic of concern. With respect to filing expectations, 79.2% of respondents said they filed as many patent applications as they expected to file in 2015, 8.3% filed more than they expected, and 12.5% filed less than they expected. The 2016 report indicates that 36.5% of survey respondents filed between four and nineteen patent families in 2015, 24% filed 1-3 patent families, 12.5% filed 20-49 patent families, 10.4% filed either no patent families or more than 100 patent families, and 6.3% filed 50-99 patent families. The report noted that respondents have been filing fewer patent families as compared to three years ago.
In addition, respondents filed 34.3% of their patent families internationally in 2015, down from 49% in 2014 and 52% in 2013. The report notes that 66.7% of those international filings were made using the PCT, 2.6% were made using the Paris Convention, and 30.6% were made using a combination of the PCT and Paris Convention. For respondents using the PCT to file internationally, 64% respondents had used the USPTO as the International Searching Authority, 56% had used the EPO, 31% had used the Korean IP Office (KIPO), and 8% had used the Australian Patent Office. With regard to the countries in which respondents regularly filed, the top twelve jurisdictions were:
1. United States
8. South Korea
12. South Africa
With respect to IP budgets, 41.4% of survey respondents experienced IP budget cuts in 2015 (of which 12.1% of respondents were experiencing budget cuts for the first time in recent years). For respondents who had reduced foreign patenting costs in 2015, cost savings were achieved by filing in fewer countries (41.0%), bringing steps in-house (23.7%), negotiating with U.S. or European counsel (19.8%), consolidating foreign counsel (18.4%), negotiating with foreign counsel (17.1%), using non-law firm providers (14.5%), reducing costs on patent translations (11.8%), and consolidating local counsel (9.2%). For survey respondents who brought steps in-house, those steps included annuities (29.0%), drafting specifications (17.1%), foreign patent filing (17.1%), patent translations (11.8%), U.S. or European prosecution (9.2%), filing U.S. or European patent applications (7.9%), and foreign patent prosecution (6.6%).