Alison Brimelow, President-elect of the European Patent Office, noted recently that there were five million patents in force worldwide in 2004 and that they reached that point at an exponential rate. Her patent statistics provide an international perspective, helping to round out the US-focused Lightbulb post earlier today titled IT companies pile on patents in the US.

Patent filings in Europe, United States and Japan

Of those five million patents, Ms Brimelow said 34% were in the European Patent Convention (EPC), 29% in the United States, 20% in Japan and 17% in other countries.

Her keynote presentation was at the IP Trading Ideas symposium in Sydney on 29 January 2007.

A graphic in her presentation, appearing below, illustrates the increase of pending patent applications in the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office), JPO (Japan Patent Office), and EPO (European Patent Office). In the graphic “2.000.000” equals 2 million and “400.000” = 400,000.

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Patent filings in China, India and Korea

The increase in patent filings is even greater elsewhere, admittedly starting from a lower base. Ms Brimelow noted that in China, India and Korea:

  • national patent filings in have doubled over the last five years; and
  • PCT filings have about tripled.

A PCT filing is an international application which leads to registration in individual countries or jurisdictions.

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