A new report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) shows that patent filings around the world increased at the highest rate in 18 years.
Patent filings fell 3.9% during the worldwide financial crisis in 2009, but have since rebounded.
According to the WIPO report, patent filings increased by 9.2% to 2.34 million applications. Utility model filings increased by 23.4% and industrial design filings by 17%.
1.51 million patent applications were filed by residents of the countries in which they were filed and 830,000 million applications were filed by non-residents.
The total number of patent grants worldwide topped one million in 2012 for the first time. The total number of patents in force in 2012 is estimated to be 8.66 million.
China now tops the rankings for both patents filed by Chinese inventors worldwide and patents filed in China for patents, utility patents, industrial designs, and trademarks. The State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) was the only IP agency to see double-digit growth (24%).
In 2012, for the first time, Chinese residents accounted for the largest number of patents applications in the world. SIPO again received the largest number of applications received by a single IP office – 652,777.
Other countries with high rates of growth in patent filings included New Zealand (14.3%), Mexico (9%), the US (7.8%), and the Russian Federation (6.8%). Brazil, India, and South Africa also reported increased filings.
While the European Patent Office (EPO) overall reported growth of 4%, with 3.2% for Germany and 4.4% for the UK, filings for France declined by .7% and applications for Italy declined 4.2%.
Different regions tend to “specialize” in different types of technology. Residents of the US and Israel were more likely to file patents in the computer and medical technology fields. Residents of Belgium, India, and Switzerland were more likely to file patents in the field of organic chemistry. Brazilian residents filed a high share of patent applications in the basic materials chemistry field. Residents of China and the Russian Federation filed many patent applications for material metallurgy technologies.