According to a new report, Germans file the most patents in Europe and the country is also the EU leader in the output of patent applications relative to research and development spending.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) 2006 report on worldwide patenting indicates an average annual growth rate of 4.75% in patent-filings over the past ten years and points to increased internationalisation of the activity (increased number of patent-filings by non-residents). It also states that the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) has become a major route for international patent-filing with an average annual growth rate of 16.8% from 1990 to 2005. The PCT provides a unified procedure to protect inventions internationally.
However, patent-filing activity remains highly concentrated in five offices: the United States’, Japan’s, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Republic of Korea’s and China’s, which account for 75% of all patent applications and 74% of all patents granted.
According to the report, Germans are the biggest filers of patent applications in Europe, followed by the United Kingdom, France and Italy. German residents also do the most patent-filings per country’s research and development expenditure in Europe. Worldwide, there are large variations in the output of patent applications relative to research and development spending – Republic of Korea and Japan being the worldwide leaders in this respect.
Patent statistics are increasingly recognised as indicators of innovation activity and technology transfer. Currently in Europe, patents are awarded either on a national basis or through the European Patent Office which grants the European patent. The proposal for creation of a Community patent has been in Council planning for years, mainly due to disagreement concerning into how many official EU languages the Community patent would need to be translated. A single patent could require fewer translations and thus make it cheaper for businesses and easier to protect intellectual property rights, particularly for SMEs.