The global number of patent applications was 1.98 million, an historical high. the number of trade mark filings reached 3.66 million, up by 11.8% from 2009. The US patent office saw 7.5% growth in applications in 2010 (after two years of near zero growth), with 490,226 applications - ahead of China's patent office with 391,177 filings and its Japanese counterpart with 344,598 filings. WIPO comments that "this mirrored wider economic trends in a year in which China overtook Japan to become the second largest economy in the world, as measured by GDP". Patent applications were up by 24.3% in China, by 12.2% in the European Patent Office, 11.9% in Singapore and 10.2% in the Russian Federation. WIPO notes in the 212 page compilation that filings in China increased from 63,450 in 2001 to 391,177 in 2010.
A sense of the global intellectual property economy is provided by looking at WIPO's statistics on who filed where. Filing by Chinese residents (293,066 applications) overtook those by Japanese residents (290,081 applications), with residents of Japan (172,945 applications) and the US (178,355 applications) filing the largest number of patent applications outside their own country. Residents of Canada, the Netherlands, Israel and Switzerland filed more than 80% of their total applications abroad, in contrast to residents of China, who filed only 5% of applications abroad.
WIPO's breakdown of the figures by industry indicates that -
computer technology, electrical machinery, audio-visual technology and medical technology accounted for the largest shares of patent filings worldwide. However, the relative importance of different technology fields varied substantially across countries. Broadly defined information communications and technologies (ICTs) accounted for the largest share of filings in Finland and Sweden, with pharmaceuticals more prominent in Belgium, India and Switzerland.WIPO estimates that the global number of “potentially pending” patent applications in 2010 was 5.17 million in 2010, down 3.3% on 2009, with Japan's patent office of Japan reporting a 20% decline in pending applications. It's unclear whether the decline's attributable to improved efficiency, additional resourcing in the office or other matters.
The report provides no meaningful measure of patent quality and the number of applications is a problematical indication of the validity of those applications, of national competitiveness or the effectiveness of nation innovation/education policies.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry commented that the "upturn" in filings shows that enterprises have been continuing to innovate -
This can help to create new jobs and generate prosperity once macroeconomic stability is restored, [although] if economic conditions were to deteriorate sharply in the short term – as happened in 2009 – companies might be forced to curtail or abandon their investments in innovation, stifling an essential source of growth.Ithe number of design applications - eg under the Designs Act 2003 (Cth) - is reported by WIPO as increasing by 13%, primarily due to "high growth in China which accounted for 83% of total growth". Globally there were 637,000 resident and 86,700 non-resident applications. The number of designs applications were up by 14% in Australia, 12.6% in the US, 20% in Canada and 20% in China.
Globally there were an estimated 3.66 million trade mark applications in 2010 (2.78 resident and 0.88 million non-resident applications), with China's trade mark registrar accounting for three-fifths of the 11.8% growth in applications. The number of applications for marks were up by 13% in France (13.1%), 11.5% in Brazil and 11.4% in Russia. WIPO comments that -
middle-income countries filed a higher number of trademark applications per GDP as compared to high-income countries. Chile filed 218 trademark applications per billion GDP in 2010. Bulgaria (166), Ecuador (157) and Viet Nam (128) also show high ratios of trademark filings per GDP, exceeding those for Germany (72), Japan (39) and the US (22).The significance of that spread is unclear.