This glossary seeks to assist readers in better understanding key technical terms and concepts. Many of the terms are defined generically (e.g., “application”), but apply to several or all of the various forms of IP covered in this report.
Applicant: An individual or other legal entity that files an application for a patent, UM, trademark or industrial design. There may be more than one applicant in an application. For the IP statistics presented in this report, the first-named applicant is deemed the owner of the application.
Application: The formal request for IP rights at an IP office, whereupon the office examines the application and decides whether to grant or refuse protection. Application also refers to a set of documents submitted to an office by the applicant.
Application abroad: An application filed by a resident of a given country/jurisdiction with a patent office of another country/jurisdiction. For example, a patent application filed by an applicant residing in France with the USPTO is considered an “ application abroad” from the perspective of France. “Application abroad” is a concept similar to “non-resident application”, which describes a patent application received by an IP office from an applicant residing in a country represented by another IP office.
Application date: The date on which the IP office receives an application that meets the minimum requirements. Application date is also referred to as the filing date.
Equivalent application: Applications at regional offices are equivalent to multiple applications, one in each of the states member of those offices. To calculate the number of equivalent applications for BOIP, EAPO, OAPI or OHIM data, each application is multiplied by the corresponding number of member states. For EPO and ARIPO data, each application is counted as one application abroad if the applicant does not reside in a member state; or as one resident and one application abroad if the applicant resides in a member state. The equivalent application concept is used for filing abroad data.
Equivalent grant (registration): Grants (registration) at regional offices are equivalent to multiple grants (registrations), one in each of the states member of those offices. To calculate the number of equivalent grants (registrations) for BOIP, EAPO, OAPI or OHIM data, each grant (registration) is multiplied by the corresponding number of member states. For EPO and ARIPO data, each grant is counted as one grant abroad if the applicant does not reside in a member state; or as one resident and one grant abroad if the applicant resides in a member state. The equivalent grant (registration) concept is used for grant (registration) abroad data.
European Patent Office (EPO): The regional patent office responsible for granting European patents for states members of the European Patent Convention. Under PCT procedures, the EPO acts as a receiving office, an international searching authority and an international preliminary examining authority.
Foreign-oriented patent families: A patent family having at least one filing office that is different from the office of the applicant’s origin.
Grant: Exclusive IP rights conferred to an applicant by an IP office. For example, patents are granted to applicants (assignees) to make use of and exploit an invention for a limited period of time. The holder of the rights can prevent unauthorized use of the invention.
Grant date: The date on which an IP office issues an IP right.
Gross domestic product (GDP): The total unduplicated output of economic goods and services produced within a country as measured in monetary terms.
Hague registration: An international registration filed under the Hague system, which facilitates the acquisition of industrial design rights in multiple jurisdictions. An application for international registration of industrial designs lead to its recording in the International Register and the publication of the registration in the International Designs Bulletin. If the registration is not refused by the IP office of a designated contracting party, the international registration will have the same effect as registration in that contracting party.
Hague system: The abbreviated form for the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs. This system consists of several international treaties (the London Act, the Hague Act and the Geneva Act). The Hague system makes it possible for an applicant to register up to 100 industrial designs in multiple jurisdictions by filing a single application with the International Bureau of WIPO. It simplifies the process of multinational registration by reducing the requirements to file multiple applications with each IP office. The system also simplifies the subsequent management of the industrial design, since it is possible to record subsequent changes or to renew the registration through a single procedural step.
Industrial design application filed via the Hague system: An application for the international registration of an industrial design filed under the WIPO-administered Hague Agreement.
Industrial design: Compositions of lines or colors or any three-dimensional forms that give a special appearance to a product or handicraft. They refer to the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of a useful article. Industrial designs are applied to a wide variety of industrial products and handicrafts. The holder of a registered industrial design has exclusive rights against unauthorized copying or imitation of the design by third parties. Industrial design registrations are valid for a limited period. The term of protection is usually 15 years for most jurisdictions. However, differences in legislation do exist, notably in China (which provides for a 10-year term from the application date) and the US (which provides for a 14-year term from the date of registration).
International Patent Classification (IPC): An internationally recognized patent classification system. The IPC’s hierarchical structure consists of sections, classes, subclasses and groups. IPC symbols are assigned according to technical features in patent applications. A patent application can be assigned multiple IPC symbols, as it may relate to multiple technical features.
Intellectual property (IP): Refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce. IP is divided into two categories: industrial property, which includes patents, trademarks, industrial designs and geographical indications of source; and copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.
Invention: An invention is a new solution to a technical problem. To obtain patent rights, the invention must be novel, involve an inventive step and be industrially applicable, as judged by a person skilled in the art.
IP rights in force: IP rights that are currently valid. To remain in force, IP rights must be maintained, usually by paying maintenance (renewal) fees to an IP office at regular intervals. A trademark can be maintained indefinitely by paying renewal fees; however, patents, UMs and industrial designs can only be maintained for a limited number of years.
Madridregistration: An international registration filed under the Madrid system, which facilitates the acquisition of trademark rights in multiple jurisdictions. It is not the same as a trademark registration issued by a national or regional IP office. An international registration, once issued by WIPO, serves as an application at each of the national and regional IP offices designated by the applicant and party to the Madrid system. On the basis of the Madrid international registration, the national or regional IP office decides whether or not to issue a trademark registration that is valid within its jurisdiction.
Madridsystem: The abbreviated form for the Madrid system for the International Registration of Marks, established under the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol and administered by WIPO. The Madrid system makes it possible for an applicant to apply for a trademark registration in a large number of contracting parties by filing a single application at a national or regional IP office party to the system. In addition, it simplifies the process of multinational trademark registration by reducing the requirement to file a separate application with each IP office. The system also streamlines subsequent management of the registration, since it is possible to record changes or to renew the registration through a single procedural step. Registration through the Madrid system does not create an “international” registration of a trademark, and the decision to register or refuse the trademark remains in the hands of the national and/or regional IP office(s). Trademark rights are limited to the jurisdiction of the trademark registration office(s).
Maintenance: The process by which IP rights are maintained (i.e., kept in force). This usually consists of paying maintenance (renewal) fees to an IP office at regular intervals. If maintenance (renewal) fees are not paid, IP rights may lapse.
Nice Classification: The abbreviated form of the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of Registering Marks under the Nice Agreement. The Nice Classification is divided into 34 classes for goods and 11 for services.
Non-resident application: An application filed with a patent office of a given country/jurisdiction by an applicant residing in another country/jurisdiction. For example, a patent application filed with the USPTO by an applicant residing in France is considered a non-resident application for the USPTO. Non-resident applications are sometimes also referred to as foreign applications. A non-resident grant is a patent granted on the basis of a non-resident application.
Origin: The country of residence (or nationality, in the absence of a valid residence) of the first-named applicant of an IP application. Country of origin is used to determine the origin of the IP application.
ParisConvention: The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, signed in Paris on March 20, 1883, is one of the most important IP treaties. It establishes the “right of priority” which enables a patent applicant, when filing an application in countries other than the original country of filing, to claim priority of an earlier application filed up to 12 months previously.
Patent: A set of exclusive rights granted by law to applicants for inventions that are new, non-obvious and commercially applicable. It is valid for a limited period of time (generally 20 years), during which patent holders can commercially exploit their inventions on an exclusive basis. In return, applicants are obliged to disclose their inventions to the public in a manner that enables others, skilled in the art, to replicate the invention. The patent system is designed to encourage innovation by providing innovators with time-limited exclusive legal rights, thus enabling innovators to reap the benefits of their innovative activity.
Patent family: A set of interrelated patent applications filed in one or more countries to protect the same or a similar invention.
Patent opposition: An administrative process for disputing the validity of a granted patent that is often limited to a specific time period after the patent has been granted. For example, at the EPO, anyone may oppose a patent within nine months of publication of the grant of the European patent in the European Patent Bulletin.
PCT application: A patent application filed through the WIPO-administered PCT system.
PCT national phase entry: The decision by a PCT applicant to enter the national phase before a national or regional patent office is referred to as national phase entry. It consists of the submission of a written request and payment of fees and must be carried out within 30 months from the priority date of the application (longer time periods are allowed by some offices).
PCT system: The PCT, an international treaty administered by WIPO, facilitates the acquisition of patent rights in a large number of jurisdictions. The PCT system simplifies the process of multiple national patent filings by reducing the requirement to file a separate application in each jurisdiction. However, the decision of whether to grant patent rights remains in the hands of national and regional patent offices, and the patent rights remain limited to the jurisdiction of the patent granting authority. The PCT international application process starts with the international phase, during which an international search and, possibly, a preliminary examination are performed, and concludes with the national phase, during which national and regional patent offices decide on the patentability of an invention according to national law.
Pending patent application: In general, a patent application filed with a patent office and for which no patent has yet been granted or refused nor the application withdrawn. In jurisdictions where a request for examination is obligatory to start the examination process, a pending application may refer to an application for which a request for examination has been received but for which no patent has been granted or refused, nor the application withdrawn.
Publication date: The date on which an IP application is disclosed to the public. On that date, the subject matter of the application becomes “prior art”.
Reference date: Application data are based on the date of application. Grant/registration data are based on the date of grant/registration. Patent data by field of technology and top PCT applicants are based on the publication date. Patent family data are based on the priority (or first filing) date.
Regional application: An IP application filed with a regional IP office having jurisdiction over more than one country or territory. There are currently four regional patent offices: the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization, the Eurasian Patent Organization, the European Patent Office and the African Intellectual Property Organization. There are two regional trademark and industrial design offices: the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market of the EU.
Regional grant (registration): An IP right granted (registered) by a regional IP office having jurisdiction over more than one country or territory.
Registration: Exclusive rights, notably for trademarks and industrial designs, issued to an applicant by an IP office. Registrations are issued to applicants to make use of and exploit trademarks or industrial designs for a limited period of time and, in some cases, particularly in the case of trademarks, can be renewed indefinitely.
Research and development (R&D) expenditure: The money spent on creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge related to humans culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.
Resident application: An application filed with an IP office by an applicant residing in the country/region in which that office has jurisdiction.. For example, an application filed with the JPO by a resident of Japan is considered a resident application for the JPO. Resident applications are sometimes referred to as domestic applications. A resident grant/registration is an IP right issued on the basis of a resident application.
Trademark: A trademark is a distinctive sign, which distinguishes certain goods or services of one undertaking from those produced or provided by other undertakings. The holder of a registered trademark has the legal right to exclusive use of the mark in relation to the products or services for which it is registered. The owner can prevent unauthorized use of the trademark, or a confusingly similar mark, used for goods or services that are identical or similar to the goods and services for which the mark is registered. Unlike patents, trademark registrations can potentially be maintained indefinitely, as long as the trademark holder pays the renewal fees and actually uses the trademark. The procedures for registering trademarks are governed by the rules and regulations of national and regional IP offices. Trademark rights are limited to the jurisdiction of the authority that issues the trademark. Trademarks can be registered by filing an application with the relevant national or regional IP office(s), or by filing an international application through the Madrid system.
Trademark application filed via the Madrid system: An application for international registration of a trademark though the WIPO-administered Madrid system.
Utility model (UM):. Like a patent, a UM is a set of rights granted for an invention for a limited period of time, during which UM holders can commercially exploit their inventions on an exclusive basis. The terms and conditions for granting UMs are different from those for “traditional” patents. For example, UMs are issued for a shorter duration (7 to 10 years) and, at most offices, UM applications are granted without substantive examination. The procedures for granting UM rights are governed by the rules and regulations of national IP offices, and rights are limited to the jurisdiction of the issuing authority.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): A United Nations specialized agency dedicated to the promotion of innovation and creativity for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries through a balanced and effective international IP system. Established in 1967, WIPO’s mandate is to promote the protection of IP throughout the world through cooperation among states and in collaboration with other international organizations.