International Patent & Trademark Filings Set New Record in 2011

Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General

Despite difficult economic conditions worldwide, international patent filings under the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) set a new record in 2011 with 181,900 applications – a growth of 10.7% when compared with 2010, and the fastest growth since 2005. China, Japan and the United States accounted for 82% of the total growth, and the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corporation was the largest filer of PCT applications in 2011. 2011 also saw the filing of the two millionth PCT application, which was filed by US-based mobile technology company Qualcomm.

“The recovery in international patent filings that we saw in 2010 gained strength in 2011,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “This underlines the important role played by the PCT system in a world where innovation is an increasingly important feature of economic strategy. It also shows that companies have been continuing to innovate in 2011 – reassuring news in times of persistent economic uncertainty.”

2011 also saw the highest number of international trademark applications ever filed under WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (“Madrid system”) with 42,270 applications, or a 6.5 % increase compared to 2010. Applications from the member states of the European Union (EU) accounted for more than half (57.4%) of all international trademark applications, and China remained the most designated country for trademark protection.

The largest growth rates amongst the top ten countries in the system came from the Russian Federation (+35.6%), followed by the European Union (+24.5%), the United States of America (+15.5%) and China (+11.5%).  International registrations recorded in the International Trademark Register increased by 8.5%, with a total 40,711 new registrations issued in 2011.  WIPO also recorded 21,754 international trademark renewals in 2011.


“The Madrid international trademark system enables individual businesses to protect their brands in line with their export strategies and provides excellent value for money. The recovery in Madrid system activity that we witnessed in 2010 was further consolidated in 2011, where a new record was established for the number of international trademark applications filed,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

Among the top filing countries, PCT applications from China (+33.4%), Japan (+21%), Canada (+8.3%), the Republic of Korea (+8%) and the US (+8%) saw the fastest growth in 2011. European countries, on the other hand, displayed a mixed performance, with Switzerland (+7.3%), France (+5.8%), Germany (+5.7%) and Sweden (+4.6%) experiencing growth, while the Netherlands (-14%), Finland (-2.7%), Spain (-2.7%) and the United Kingdom (-1%) seeing declines. The large middle-income economies of the Russian Federation (+20.8%), Brazil (+17.2%) and India (+11.2%) recorded double-digit filing growth.

The US with 48,596 filings remains the largest user of the PCT system, followed by Japan (38,888), Germany (18,568) and China (16,406). However, the US (-0.7%) and Germany (-0.5%) saw drop in their shares of total filings, while China (+1.5) and Japan (+1.8) each increased their share by more than a percentage point.

Top PCT Applicants

ZTE Corporation of China (2,826 published applications) overtook Panasonic Corporation of Japan (2,463) as the top PCT applicant in 201.  Huawei Technologies, Co. of China (1,831) ranked third, followed by Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha (1,755) of Japan and Robert Bosch Corporation (1,518) of Germany. Each of the top five applicants saw double-digit growth in published PCT applications. Five Japanese companies – Panasonic, Sharp, Toyota, NEC, and Mitsubishi – feature in the top 15-list.  Perhaps surprisingly, despite the US being the top filer only one US corporation made it into the top 10, with Qualcomm Inc. having 1,494 published applications in 2011.

Here are the top 25 corporate filers:

Company Country Applications Change 2010
1 ZTE Corporation China 2,826 958
2 Panasonic Corporation Japan 2,463 310
3 Huawei Technologies China 1,831 304
4 Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha Japan 1,755 469
5 Robert Bosch Corporation Germany 1,518 217
6 Qualcomm Inc. USA 1,494 -181
7 Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha Japan 1,417 322
8 LG Electronics Inc. Korea 1,336 39
9 Koninklijke Philips Electronics Netherlands 1,148 -285
10 Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson Sweden 1,116 -31
11 NEC Corporation Japan 1,056 -50
12 Siemens Aktiengesellschaft Germany 1,039 209
13 Mitsubishi Electronic Corporation Japan 834 108
14 BASF SE Germany 773 -44
15 Samsung Electronics Korea 757 183
16 Nokia Corporation Finland 698 66
17 IBM Corporation USA 661 245
18 Hewlett-Packard Development USA 591 27
19 3M Innovative Properties Co. USA 563 -23
20 Hitachi LTD. Japan 547 175
21 Kabushiki Kaisha Tobhiba Japan 517 198
22 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha Japan 499 120
23 Fujitsu Limited Japan 494 19
24 Procter & Gamble Co. USA 488 129
25 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Japan 480 89

The University of California, with 277 applications published in 2011, is the largest filer among educational institutions, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (179), the University of Texas System (127), Johns Hopkins University (111) and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (103). US universities account for 30 of the top-50 educational institutions, followed by Japan and the Republic of Korea with 7 institutions each.

Here is the list of the top 25 University filers:

University Country Applications Change 2010
1 University of California USA 277 -27
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology USA 179 33
3 University of Texas System USA 127 -2
4 Johns Hopkins University USA 111 22
5 Korea Advanced Inst. of Sci. & Tech. Korea 103 52
6 Seoul National University Korea 99 2
7 University of Tokyo Japan 98 -7
8 University of Michigan USA 96 17
9 Harvard University USA 88 -3
10 Cornell University USA 88 7
11 University of Florida USA 84 -23
12 Columbia University USA 82 -9
13 Leland Stanford Junior University USA 79 25
14 Kyoto University Japan 70 23
15 University of Pennsylvania USA 64 -12
16 Isis Innovation Limited UK 62 16
17 Korea University Korea 60 33
18 Osaka University Japan 59 -1
19 California Institute of Technology USA 55 9
20 Arizona State University USA 55 -9
21 Gwangju Institute of Science & Tech. Korea 52 31
22 Duke University USA 51 3
23 Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel 51 8
24 Tohoku University Japan 51 10
25 Hanyang University Korea 50 4

PCT filings by Fields of Technology

Digital communications with 11,574 (or 7.1% of total) published applications remained the field of technology accounting for the largest share of total PCT applications in 2011, followed by electronic machinery (6.9%), medical technology (6.6%) and computer technology (6.4%).3

Most technology fields experienced growth in patenting in 2011. Electronic machinery (23.2%) saw the fastest growth, but 11 other fields also experienced double-digits growth (annex 4). Only 4 fields saw a decline in filings, including basic communication processes (-5.9%), organic fine chemistry (-4.1%), and pharmaceuticals (-1.9%).

The PCT system facilitates the process of seeking patent protection in multiple countries. It simplifies this process by postponing the requirement to file a separate application in each jurisdiction until after a centralized processing and initial patentability evaluation have taken place. Examination of the patentability of the invention in national offices and the related expenses are postponed, in the majority of cases, by up to 18 months – or even longer in some offices – as compared to direct patent filings. The PCT system now has 144 member states.


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