Merry Christmas!

U.S. Patent No. 6,350.499 entitled “Suspended Christmas Tree”

Follow-Up to Chinese Patent Filings

As a follow-up to a previous post regarding China’s surge in patent applications, it is worth noting several important aspects of the Chinese patent system. The first is that most patent applications in China are not based on substantive examination. Instead, the applications are simply approved if the application is correctly filled out. Essentially, most of the patents issued are “registered” rather than examined. Secondly, the filing costs for domestic companies are subsidized by the Chinese government, making it rather cheap to file in China. Third, companies which own a certain number of patents are classified as “high tech” companies which are subject to lower taxation, providing a powerful incentive for filing patents. As a result of the forgoing, at the present time, Chinese patents are oftenn of low quality.
An excellent blog post on this subject can be found here in the Intellectual Asset Management blog.

Worldwide Patent Filings Surge

The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has issued a report (2011 World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) Report) which details the state of world intellectual property filings — and the findings are that despite the economic downturn, 2011 has seen a marked increase in worldwide patent filings. According to the report, which shows data up to 2010, the US and China accounted for about 80% of the 7.2% growth in patent filings. After two years of almost no growth in patent filings, the US Patent and Trademark Office saw a 7.5% increase in 2010.  China saw a 24.2% increase. The European Patent Office experienced a 12.2% growth.  Also, for the first time, the Chinese Patent Office has surpassed the Japanese Patent Office in terms of number of filings.

The report shows that  computer technology, electrical machinery, audio-visual technology and medical technology accounted for the largest shares of patent filings worldwide.

China Leads World in Patent Filings

Thomson Reuters has issued two research reports assessing innovation in China. The first, Invented in China assesses total patent volumes and highlights growing areas of innovation activity in China.  Special Report: Trademarks in China tracks trends in trademark activity in China over the last 20 years and analyzes trademark activities of the world’s leading brands.

The findings are astounding:

Patent Filings: According to estimates, China now leads the world in patent application filings. By the year 2015, China will publish about 393,000 applications annually.  In contrast, US companies (and individuals) now account for about 240,000 patent applications per year.  However, the US Patent & Trademark Office processes about 500,000 applications per year, some of which are filed by foreign entities.

Trademark Applications: Despite being seen as a country that does not respect branding and where counterfeiting is still widespread, since the year 2000, trademark filings have increased 450%.

However, the research also shows that the most innovative companies in the world are located in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Furthermore, Chinese companies have been slow to expand globally — only 5.6 percent of Chinese inventions are protected by international filings. From what I see, this is going to change in the next few years.

Exhibit Honors Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs

A new exhibit at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) honors the patent and trademarks of Steve Jobs. The free exhibit will be open to the public until January 15th at the atrium of the Madison Building, in Alexandria, Virginia, and features 30 giant iPhones displaying over 300 patent and trademarks in which Jobs was named an inventor.
The exhibit was designed by Invent Now, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering invention and creativity through its many programs. Invent Now also runs the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Musem located on the USPTO campus.

Photo used by permission from Mac Rumors.