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East Asia leads in PCT filings

East Asia led in PCT applications in 2010, with roughly 164,300 filed, according to WIPO’s annual PCT review

“Reflecting current economic forecasts, this heralds growing dominance by Asia,” the report said.

Most of the growth came from China, now the fourth-ranked PCT filing country overall. The growth there outpaced the Republic of Korea.

India and Japan also saw significant growth, contributing to East Asia becoming the top subregion in PCT filings. North America and Western Europe follow East Asia, with all three subregions filing 83.4% of all PCT applications.

According to WIPO, this reflects a shift in East Asia’s use of the PCT system. While the subregion filed the most PCT applications in 2010, it had already become the region that filed the most patents in foreign countries in 1995.

“This suggests that East Asian applicants have relied less on the PCT system for their filings abroad than have applications from other regions, and more on the so-called Paris route,” the report said.

WIPO noted that, when considering the share of PCT national phase entries out of countries’ total filings abroad from 2005 to 2009, the Republic of Korea, China and Japan remained below 50%, whereas it remained above that level for the US (73%) and Germany (57%).

“Even though East Asia alone already accounts for more filings than any other subregion, there remains additional growth potential,” said the report.

While North America and Western Europe filed fewer applications during the economic downturn, East Asia increased its numbers. From 2001 to 2010, East Asia’s growth rate averaged 15.1%, while North America grew by 1.1% and Western Europe by 3.1%.

Notably, Japan’s share of PCT filings almost doubled from 1998 to 2008 as its global output and worldwide R&D expenditure fell. All metrics declined in the US, Germany and France.

“Japan’s experience thus demonstrates that strategic decision-making can have a more pronounced impact on PCT use than that predicted by economic fundamentals,” the report says.

In 2010, Asia led among regions in PCT applications worldwide, a designation North America had held in 2005.

The US still ranks first among PCT filers, despite continued decline in applications. Japan and Germany are second and third, respectively.

For the last three years, US applicants have decreased their PCT filings. US filings dropped sharply by 11.7% in 2009, though only by 1.6% in 2010.

Among individual applicants, Japanese-based Panasonic Corporation filed the most PCT applications published, followed by ZTE Corporation in China and Qualcomm Incorporated in the US.

Of universities, the four top filers are in the US: the University of California, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Texas and the University of Florida.

Further, digital communication is the fastest growing field in the technology sector, having the largest share of total PCT applications published. Telecommunications saw the biggest decline.

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