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Global patent filings grow at their fastest for 18 years

Applications from the Chinese for IP rights around the world have helped to drive levels of global IP growth in 2012, with global patent filings growing at their fastest rate for 18 years

The 2013 edition of WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators, published today, reveals that, for the first time, China tops the ranking for both the source (filings by China) and the destination (filed in China) for patents, utility models, trade marks and industrial designs.

Of the top five IP offices worldwide (USPTO, JPO EPO, KIPO and SIPO), the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office was the only one to record double-digit growth for each of the four types of IP.

The rapid growth of IP applications into and from China contributed to 2012 as being the year in which global patent filings increased at its strongest rate in nearly two decades. Last year patent applications from individual inventors and companies topped 2.35 million, 9.2% more than in 2011.

But the growth in patent applications was distributed unevenly. SIPO saw the fastest growth in filings, up almost one-quarter on 2011. New Zealand followed with 14%, and Mexico with 9%. While other Bric countries saw applications rise by at least 2.7%, the picture in Europe was more mixed.

While the EPO, the UK and Germany each attracted at least 3.2% more applications for patents in 2012 compared to the year before, France and Italy each saw a dip in the number of applications received by their national offices.

IP offices in Europe also reported a dip in the number of trade mark classes for which applicants sought protection in 2012. While class counts filed world wide grew by 6% (although this was at a slower pace than in the previous two years), Italy saw an 8.3% decrease, while Germany and Spain reported falls of 6.4% and 5.6%, respectively.

In 2012, residents of China filed, worldwide, applications with more than 1.5 million class counts, almost triple the level from the US and almost four times as many as originated from France and Germany.

Following a slowdown in both 2008 and 2009, the numbers of industrial designs contained in applications has continued to rise. Last year applications grew by 17%.

“Following the 2009 financial crisis, global IP filings and global economic output have followed diverging paths,” said WIPO director-general Francis Gurry.“While economic recovery since the 2009 crisis has been uneven and has failed to bring down unacceptably high levels of unemployment, IP filings have increased at a faster rate than before the crisis.”

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