A strong patent strategy ensures protection of the innovative product, new business idea and an innovative business model across 150+ countries by taking advantage of the PCT, or the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The patent process begins by conducting a worldwide patent search to determine a set of patentable features that can be used to draft a strong patent application. For any business, obtaining patent pending status by filing a provisional patent or an international patent application increases overall business valuation for raising funds and growing the business worldwide. Rahul Dev is an international technology business lawyer and an experienced patent attorney with 17+ experience in the EU, Asia Pacific, UK and the US.
This article identifies the important trends witnessed in the WIPO administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in terms of PCT filing, international designation, and domestic jurisdiction of applications. In 2020 PCT recorded a 4.3% growth in the national phase entries including a 4% increase in the filed PCT applications and a 3% decrease in the jurisdictions where the PCT applications were filed. Overall the share of PCT national phase entries in worldwide non-resident patent application filings has stayed at 56.7%, showing a 0.2 percent point decrease. However, in this same year, the share of women inventors among all PCT applications has risen by 0.8%.
With COVID-19 breaking the worldwide commercial market, PCT witnessed a record 4% surge in the PCT applications submitted in 2020. This is the 11th consecutive year of growth and despite the pandemic affecting economies throughout the globe, the number of applications has increased, specifically in China. Overall applicants from 125 countries filed PCT applications at 84 Receiving Offices (ROs), with the top ten ROs recording 94.2% of the total.
The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) recorded the highest number of PCT applications, followed by the United States of Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the European Patent Office (EPO), and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). These jurisdictions constitute 17 high-income countries including India and Asian countries made up 53.7% of all PCT applications in 2020.
Considering the business sector, it accounted for 87% of all published PCT applications, of which the highest share belonged to Sweden and Japan. For the 4th consecutive year, Huawei Technologies filled the maximum number of PCT applications with 5,464 PCT applications. They were followed by Samsung Electronics from Korea, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan, LG Electronics Inc. from Korea, and Qualcomm Inc. from the US.
Primarily, enterprises that are actively operating in digital communication, head the list of top 50 PCT filers in 2020. In the education sector, the University of California was the largest user of the PCT system in 2020, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of the US and the Shenzhen University of China. Finally, in the government section the German-based Fraunhofer-Gessellschaft zur Forderung der angewandten Forschung lead the top 30 administrative and PRO applicants of 2020.
Computer technology has lasted as the primary technology field that has seen maximum PCT applications. This is followed by digital communication, medical technology, electrical machinery, devices, energy, and measurements. These fields together account for 35.5% of all PCT applications submitted in 2020.
Further, the percentage of women documented as inventors grew substantially in 2020 than in 2019. In 2020, women made up 16.5% of all inventors documented in PCT applications, increasing by 0.7% compared to 2019. In 2020, the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region had the maximum stake of women among PCT inventors, followed by Asia (17.4%), North America (16.5%), Oceania (14.9%), Europe (14.2%), and Africa (12.1%).
PCT National Phase Entries (NPE) have increased by 4.3% in 2019, and in the last 15yrs, the quantity of NPEs has doubled with most of the increase initiated from Japan and the US. The NPEs originating from non-resident applicants indicated 83.5% of all NPEs in 2019, and this share has shown a slight decrease in the past decade primarily because of growth in resident NPEs initiated in JPO and USPTO.
Asia has the maximum PCT NPEs that are initiated worldwide, accounting for 35.6% of all NPEs in 2019. Further, applicants residing in the U.S. introduced the most PCT NPEs worldwide, followed by applicants from Japan, Germany, China, and the Republic of Korea. US and Japan together accounted for nearly half of all NPEs.
The PCT System counted for 56.7% of all non-resident patent applications in 2019, and out of the highest 20 offices concerning non-resident patent applications, 17 acquired a maximum of their non-resident filings via the PCT route, with the agencies of Brazil and Israel taking shares beyond 90%, and those of Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. between 28% and 38%.
The International Bureau (IB) – About 44% of all PCT applications were published in English in 2020, while Chinese overtook Japanese to become the second most used language of publication. Over 16% of PCT applications were filed using ePCT in 2020 in 71 Receiving Offices (ROs), indicating a 29.4% increase from the previous year.
The Receiving Offices (ROs) – 18 of the top 20 ROs obtained over 90% of applications electronically in 2020, and of these top runners Israel, Singapore, Turkey, and the US received almost all PCT applications electronically. The percentage of electronic filings surpassed 99% at 7 offices and 90% at each office, except that of Germany and Russia. In terms of the PCT applications transmitted to the IB, on average, ROs transferred PCT applications to the IB within 2.6 weeks of the priority filing date. Of the top 20 ROs, 11 transferred over 98% of PCT applications within 4 weeks of the filing date.
The European Patent Office (EPO), the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) accounted for approximately 3-quarters of all International Search Reports (ISRs) issued by existing International Searching Authorities (ISAs). Among the ISRs that must be transferred to the IB within 3 months of the date of receiving an application, 86.1% were transferred within the given timeframe.
International patent filing is a highly competitive process. This is one of the most effective ways to protect your invention from counterfeiters or potential patent infringers located across multiple countries. You can file your application in more than one language, and the PCT system provides a system for submitting your application in multiple languages. When you enter the national phase, you must pay the filing fees for each country. Once you have filed an application in a single language, you can use the PCT system to submit your application in all languages, including the language you intend to use for the patent.
International patent filing is a complex process, but it is worth it. The process is faster and more effective than ever. The Paris Convention patent filing enables you to file a single application in any one of 153 countries. The Paris Convention is a global agreement for the protection of industrial property, and most countries adhere to it. By filing your first application in a participating country, you will get provisional protection in those countries. Then, you will need to engage a local patent representative in the other countries you wish to file your patent application.
Our team of advanced patent attorneys assists clients with patent searches, drafting patent applications, and patent (intellectual property) agreements, including licensing and non-disclosure agreements.
Advocate Rahul Dev is a Patent Attorney & International Business Lawyer practicing Technology, Intellectual Property & Corporate Laws. He is reachable at rd (at) patentbusinesslawyer (dot) com & @rdpatentlawyer on Twitter.
Quoted in and contributed to 50+ national & international publications (Bloomberg, FirstPost, SwissInfo, Outlook Money, Yahoo News, Times of India, Economic Times, Business Standard, Quartz, Global Legal Post, International Bar Association, LawAsia, BioSpectrum Asia, Digital News Asia, e27, Leaders Speak, Entrepreneur India, VCCircle, AutoTech).
Regularly invited to speak at international & national platforms (conferences, TV channels, seminars, corporate trainings, government workshops) on technology, patents, business strategy, legal developments, leadership & management.
Working closely with patent attorneys along with international law firms with significant experience with lawyers in Asia Pacific providing services to clients in US and Europe. Flagship services include international patent and trademark filings, patent services in India and global patent consulting services.
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