International Patent Filings Reach Record Levels

International patent filings under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) set a new record in 2011 with 181,900 applications, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Despite the struggling world economy, the number of patent filings grew 10.7%, which was the fastest growth since 2005.

China, Japan, and the United States of America made up 82% of the total growth. Also of note, U.S. telecommunication company Qualcomm received the distinction of filing the two millionth PCT application.

“The recovery in international patent filings that we saw in 2010 gained strength in 2011,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “This underlines the important role played by the PCT system in a world where innovation is an increasingly important feature of economic strategy. It also shows that companies have been continuing to innovate in 2011 – reassuring news in times of persistent economic uncertainty.”

Below are a few other interesting facts and statistics released by the WIPO:

  • The US with 48,596 filings remains the largest user of the PCT system, followed by Japan (38,888), Germany (18,568) and China (16,406). However, the US (-0.7%) and Germany (-0.5%) saw drop in their shares of total filings, while China (+1.5) and Japan (+1.8) each increased their share by more than a percentage point.
  • ZTE Corporation of China with 2,826 published applications overtook Panasonic Corporation of Japan (2,463) as the top PCT applicant in 2011.
  • Digital communications with 11,574 (or 7.1% of total) published applications remained the field of technology accounting for the largest share of total PCT applications in 2011, followed by electronic machinery (6.9%), medical technology (6.6%) and computer technology (6.4%)
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