Australia received 1,856 innovation patent applications in 2012, a 9% increase over 2011. Filings from China alone accounted for more than half of the increase.
By contrast, there were 26,358 invention patent applications in 2012, only a 3% increase over the previous year.
Invention patent filings from China also increased, though they account for just a small portion of total volume. Chinese patentees filed 510 invention patents in Australia last year, a 34% increase. South Korea, well known for its high tech industries, saw a 48% increase with 502 filings. In comparison, filings from European countries including Germany, France and the UK dropped, though overall volume is still considerably higher than either China or Korea. Germany for example, despite seeing a 6% decrease, still had 1,596 applications, enough for third most among foreign countries behind the US (11,378), and Japan (1,746).
The report is silent on the cause behind the increase in Chinese filings. Some critics of China’s IP policies have suggested that monetary incentives for domestic and international filings encourage low quality patents. Utility models, which are similar to innovation patents, drew particular attention. One lawyer explained that China’s incentives for PCT filings turn on filing rather than actually getting a patent, so some companies will file a PCT application, only to abandon it before reaching the national phase.
IP Australia’s data also shows that Australian companies are active overseas. Data for 2011 shows that Australian companies file 58% more patents in international markets when compared to domestic filings.
China’s importance as a growing market is reflected here. In 2012, it became the most popular location for Australian trade mark filings abroad with 2,571 applications. After China, Australian companies filed the most trade marks in New Zealand (2,215) and the US (2,015).
The Australia Intellectual Property Report 2013 can be found here.
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