WIPO has published a press release on PCT patent statistics for 2011, together with an annex giving data.
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 10% in 2011 over 2010, to about 181,900. The biggest increases among the major countries were China, up by 33%; Japan, 21%; and Canada, Korea and the USA, all up by about 8%. Among European countries, the fastest growers were Switzerland, up 7%, and France and Germany, both up 5%. The UK was down 1%.
Among smaller filers, Russia was up 20%, Brazil 17% and India 11%. These of course with China form the BRIC countries of high potential future growth. Such increases may seem extraordinary in a time of heavy recession, and the problems of Japan after the tsunami in March 2011.
Actual figures are that the USA was first, with 48,596 filings (26% of the total), followed by Japan with 21%, Germany with 10%, China with 9% and then Korea with 5%.
China’s ZTE Corporation was the leading company, with 2,826 filings. 42 of the top 100 companies are from the Far East, and six of the top ten. The top US company was Qualcomm, in sixth place. No British company was in the top 100.
There is a table of the top university applicants, where only three of the top ten are from the Far East (the rest being American), showing how innovation is so heavily driven by companies and not academia in the Far East. The top UK university was Cambridge, in 71st place.
There is also a table showing the numbers in 35 broad technical fields. Twelve showed double digit changes, all up. The three biggest rises were in electrical machinery, apparatus, energy, up 23%, followed by engines, pumps, turbines, up 16%, and environmental technology, up 14%.
WIPO has also published a detailed 2012 PCT Yearly Review. Pages 39-41 were particularly interesting to me, as they present data on international collaboration. For example, 75% of the inventors in Swiss PCT filings were foreigners and not Swiss nationals (it was 25% for both the UK and the USA). Pages 45-46 give data on how specialised countries are, correcting for their size, so that for example China and Finland lead in the ICT sector by the percentage of patent filings in that field.
I posted last year on the 2010 figures.