WIPO has published a press release on PCT patent statistics for 2010. PCT is what many call the World patent.
Nearly all large companies, and many medium-sized ones, use the PCT system, and it is a good indicator of willingness to patent. A published PCT document only means that the company asked for protection, and it is up to regional or national patent authorities to decide if they will grant a patent.
Total filings were up 4% in 2010 over 2009, to about 162,900. The number from China shot up by 56% to 12,337 (7.6% of the total, and in fourth place), while Korea rose by 20% and Japan by 7%. Germany, Canada and Spain also rose among the top fifteen countries. The US share dipped slightly by 1% to 44,855, still the top country, with Japan in second place. The UK was seventh, down 3%.
Panasonic was the leading company, with 2,054 filings. Six of the top ten companies are from the Far East. Unilever at no. 82 was given as the top UK company. There is also a table of the top university applicants, where only two of the top ten are from the Far East (the rest are American), showing how innovation is so heavily driven by companies and not academia in the Far East.
There is also a table showing the numbers in 35 broad technical fields. The four which showed double digit changes were digital communication, up 17%, while telecommunications fell by 15%, instrument control by 11% and textile and paper machines by 10%.
A final table shows the share by country. A breakdown by continent as well would have been useful. Out of interest I went through the table adding up those from African nations. There were just 401, with South Africa having 275 of this total. 573 filings were from "unknown" countries.
I posted last year on the 2009 figures.