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Yearly Review of the Patent Cooperation Treaty


26th Jun 2019

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recently released its annual review of patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Click here to read the report.

The PCT is an international treaty administered by WIPO. The PCT system allows an applicant to seek patent protection in multiple countries through filing a single PCT ‘international’ patent application, rather than having to file separate national/regional patent applications using the Paris Convention.

The report released by WIPO shows that approximately 253,000 PCT applications were filed in 2018. This is an increase of 3.9% from 2017, and it represents a ninth consecutive year of growth. PCT applications are clearly an increasingly popular choice for applicants seeking worldwide patent protection.

The increase of 3.9% was driven by double-digit percentage increases in filings in sectors such as basic communication processes (+29.5%), control (+21.2%), machine tools (+13.9%), transport (+11.3%) and digital communication (+10.1%). Recent years have seen significant increases in the number of PCT applications being filed relating to electrical engineering, mainly due to massive increases in filings made by Chinese applicants, but it is interesting to now see major increases in some mechanical engineering sectors.

The report is filled with interesting data and analysis on the PCT system. For example, the report reveals that 50.5% of PCT applications filed in 2018 were filed by Asian applicants. This marks the first time that a single continent has been responsible for over half of the PCT applications filed in a year. The high proportion of applications from Asian countries is largely down to consecutive annual increases in applications filed by Chinese and Japanese applicants. However, China’s increase of 9.1% in 2018 is the first non-double digit increase in many years. It remains to be seen whether or not this is a sign that patent filings in China are starting to slow down.

Closer to home, applicants from the UK recorded a 1.3% increase in the number of PCT applications being filed in 2018, along with the highest annual growth in national phase entries from the countries in the top ten (+7.1%) in 2017. The PCT system remains a popular route for patent protection for UK based applicants.

The number of PCT patent applications filed is growing year on year. Indeed, over the past 40 years, PCT filings have increased every year except for 2009, when the global financial crisis led to an economic downturn.

If you would like to discuss the many advantages of filing PCT applications, or for more information about PCT patent applications and other forms of intellectual property protection, please contact us.

This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.

Author
Ian Whitfield
Associate
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Would you like to know more? You can talk to Ian Whitfield who will be able to help. Call +44 (0)20 7242 0901

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