More Than 3 Million Patent Applications Filed Worldwide
For the first time ever, more than three (3) million patent applications were filed in a single year. According to a report issued on December 7, 2017 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), more than 3.1 million patent applications were filed worldwide in calendar year 2016, an increase of above 8.3% over 2015.
China led all countries with 1,338,503 domestic patent applications being filed with China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) in 2016. The number of filings in China is a record number of patent applications received by any patent office in a single year. Significantly, more patent applications were filed in China than the next four (4) countries combined. After China, the following four top countries/regional patent offices for patent filings in 2016 include: (2) the United States with 605,571 patent filings; (3) Japan with 318,381 filings; (4) South Korea with 208,830 filings; and (5) the European Patent Office (“EPO”) with 159,358 filings. These five jurisdictions accounted for 84 percent of all patent applications filed during 2016.
The WIPO report clearly underscores the growing dominance of China as a forum for patent application filings, supporting the increasing divergence with respect to intellectual property policies, in general, and patent policies, in particular, between China and the U.S. As reported by Steve Brachman at IP Watchdog yesterday (WIPO Stats on Patent Application Filings Shows China Continuing to Lead the World) and August 1, 2017 (China streamlines patent examination for Internet, big data patent applications) and Paul Morinville and Randy Landreneau on December 10, 2017 (Patent Reform: U.S. Inventor Act goes to Congress), China’s patent system is more streamlined than that of the U.S. and structured to effectively resolve claims of infringement and related disputes faster and at far less cost. Contrary to conditions more than a decade ago, China has made enormous strides in implementing an innovation protection system that may be more effective than that in the U.S.
As noted by Paul Morinville and Randy Landreneau, there are two important statistics regarding China’s patent policy. First is that 100% of foreign plaintiffs were awarded injunctive relief last year in patent infringement cases (almost all of which are fully adjudicated within one year at a cost of less than $500,000). A second important statistic is that approximately thirty-five percent (35%) of China’s patents are issued to individual inventors, many of whom will use their patented technology to form start-up companies. From these statistics alone, the conclusion may be drawn that China is surpassing the U.S. in its ability to provide greater and more efficient protection and enforcement means to patent holders. Indeed, as noted in our post on December 11, 2017, Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of USPTO Inter Partes Proceedings, patent holders seeking to enforce their rights against infringers in the U.S. can expect to spend perhaps tens of millions of dollars in round after round of litigation and inter partes review proceedings comprising many years before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO.
Patent reform legislation is again in the offing and the U.S. Supreme Court is addressing issues arising concerning the PTAB’s inter partes review proceedings under the America Invents Act. Time will tell if such measures will foster a more “innovation friendly” intellectual property policy in the U.S.