Three telecoms giants from China and the United States led international patent filings in 2014 in a fifth consecutive record-breaking year that “underscores the increasing importance of intellectual property as it moves from the periphery to the centre of the global economic system,” the United Nations reported today.
According to the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) annual review of international patent filings, a leading Chinese telecoms giant overtook a Japanese firm as the largest applicant last year, and China and the US together accounted for 87 per cent of the total growth in filings under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Under that system, some 215,000 applications were filed in 2014, a 4.5 per cent increase over the previous year, WIPO said in a news release.
The agency also noted that “in a significant development,” the US became the biggest filer of international trademark under the so-called WIPO Madrid System, which the agency described as “a one-stop solution for registering and managing marks worldwide.”
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said: “The rapid growth in international patent applications underscores the increasing importance of intellectual property as it moves from the periphery to the centre of the global economic system.”
The agency noted that telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. of China, with 3,442 published applications, overtook Panasonic Corp. of Japan as the largest applicant in 2014, while the US-based Qualcomm Inc. was the second largest applicant in 2014, with 2,409 published applications, and China’s ZTE Corp. took third place with 2,179 applications.
Who filed the most PCT patent applications in 2014?
The US was the primary country of origin for filers in 2014, with 61,492 applications and 7.1 per cent growth. Japan followed with 42,459 applications, representing a 3 per cent decline on 2013. Applicants from China filed 25,539 applications – an 18.7 per cent annual increase.
The annual review also noted that Europe “showed signs of improvement as it strives to address a challenging economic environment,” reporting that for the first time since 2007, the top three European Union countries recorded growth in filings, with strong growth coming from France and the United Kingdom.
Among the top 10 filing countries, China (+18.7 per cent) is the only country that saw double-digit growth in 2014. The UK recorded the second fastest growth rate (+9 per cent), followed by the US (+7.1 per cent). In addition to Japan, Switzerland (-5.9 per cent) and Sweden (-0.5 per cent) are the two other countries among the top 10 with less PCT applications in 2014 than in 2013.
WIPO noted the top three applicants have similar patent filing profiles, with digital communication accounting for the bulk of their total filings.
Universities and public research organizations show a strong presence, accounting for 26 per cent of pharmaceutical filings. This is in contrast to computer technology and digital communication where these entities accounted for 4.6 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.
The University of California, with 413 published applications, is the top applicant among educational institutions followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (234), the University of Texas System (154) and Harvard University (147). US universities occupy nine of the top ten positions among educational institutions.
According to the findings, which also reviewed dispute resolution activities, since the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre administered the first Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy case in 1999, total WIPO case filings have passed the 30,000 mark, encompassing over 58,000 domain names.
In 2014, cybersquatting case filings with WIPO increased by 2 per cent, with 2,634 cases concerning 5,591 domain names lodged by trademark owners alleging abuse of their mark.
WIPO, a UN specialized agency based in Geneva, is the global forum for intellectual property policy and services.