World Intellectual Property Organization

The International Patent System in 2005: Yearly Review of the PCT

1. INTRODUCTION

2. FILING OF PCT INTERNATIONAL APPLICATIONS

3. PERFORMANCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL PATENT SYSTEM

4. ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT AND PCT

5. DISSEMINATION OF PCT AND PATENT INFORMATION

6. CHANGES IN THE PCT LEGAL FRAMEWORK

7. PCT TRAINING

8. PCT CONTRACTING STATES


1. INTRODUCTION

In 2005, the international patent system saw significant developments on multiple levels.

Significant growth for international patent filings - 2005 saw a significant number of international patent filings, over 134’000 PCT international applications, representing a 10.6% increase over 2004. The most impressive rates of growth came from north east Asia - namely, Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, for the second year running.

Improved Services and Productivity - The considerable overall growth in the number of international applications resulted not only from better economic conditions, but also from improved services and productivity within the PCT system, resulting particularly from the use of information technology. The number of applications filed on electronic media now exceeded paper filings.

Democratization of Access to Technology - The deployment of full electronic processing within WIPO for PCT applications not only resulted in productivity gains at WIPO, but also assisted in making the world's technology available online for free of charge consultation. The WIPO web site "PATENTSCOPE®" now makes available over 1.2 million international applications, representing many of the most important technological advances of the past twenty years, in fully searchable form.

Improved Exchange of PCT Data - Information technology had also been successfully deployed in the movement of applications and associated data between WIPO and the various national and regional offices within the system.

More Complete and Updated Statistics - WIPO has also considerably enhanced the collection and dissemination of patent statistics. Since 2005, PCT statistics, including national phase entry statistics, are available every month on the Internet.

2006 will build on these developments in particular in connection with a wider access to the world of technology, through PatentScope, and in the area of information technology.

 

2. FILING OF PCT INTERNATIONAL APPLICATIONS

2.1 PCT Filing Trends (1978 - 2005)

In 2005, over 134’000 PCT international applications were filed, representing a 10.6% increase over the previous year. The graph below shows the growth in the number of international applications filed since 1978.

PCT Filing Trends since 1978

 

2.2 Top 15 Countries of Origin1

The five top users of the international patent system remained unchanged, namely: United States of America, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The top 15 countries of origin are shown in the table below.

Top 15 countries of origin

 

2.3 Top 20 PCT Applicants

In 2005, 235’000 applicants2 (or inventors) used the PCT system. The table below shows the top 20 PCT Applicants.

RankingCountry of OriginApplicantTotal

1

NL

KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS ELECTRONICS N.V.

2’492

2

JP

MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.

2’022

3

DE

SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT

1’399

4

FI

NOKIA CORPORATION

898

5

DE

ROBERT BOSCH GMBH

843

6

US

INTEL CORPORATION

691

7

DE

BASF AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT

656

8

US

3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY

605

9

US

MOTOROLA, INC.

580

10

DE

DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG

572

11

US

EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY

531

12

US

HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC.

518

13

SE

TELEFONAKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON (publ)

511

14

KR

SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD.

483

15

DE

BAYER

469

16

US

THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY

461

17

JP

SONY CORPORATION

449

18

JP

MITSUBISHI DENKI KABUSHIKI KAISHA

438

19

US

E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY

423

20

JP

TOYOTA JIDOSHA KABUSHIKI KAISHA

399

Source: WIPO Statistics Database

 

2.4 PCT and Developing Countries

PCT international applications received from developing countries in 2005 saw a 24.8% increase as compared to 2004, representing 6.9% of all international applications filed. Several developing countries saw double-digit percentage increases in their use of the PCT, notably China, Mexico and the Republic of Korea.

PCT international applications from developing countries

*Although this is not a PCT Contracting State, applicants who are nationals and/or residents of this State (or of any other State which is not a PCT Contracting State) can file a PCT application together with another applicant who is a national and/or resident of a PCT Contracting State.

 

2.5 Filings by Language of Filing

In 2005, PCT international applications were filed in the following languages:

Filings by language of filing

 

2.6 Filings by Technical Field

Each international application is classified according to the International Patent Classification (IPC) - this describes the technical field to which the invention relates. The table below shows the top 15 classifications under which international applications were published in 2005, and compares each total with the corresponding total for previous years.

Filing by technical field  

3. PERFORMANCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL PATENT SYSTEM

3.1 Receiving Offices

International applications filed under the PCT are first filed with a receiving Office, which may be a national or regional Office, or the International Bureau of WIPO. There are 103 Offices acting as receiving Offices within the PCT system. The table below shows the top 10 receiving Offices.

Applications by receiving Office

 

3.2 International Bureau

3.2.1 Workload and PCT Operations Staff

During the last five years, the workload of the International Bureau increased by over 50%; over the same period, the number of staff3 processing record copies saw only a 3% increase.

Workload & PCT Operations staff

Workload & PCT Operations staff

 

3.2.2 Timeliness

The graph below shows the timeliness of publication by the International Bureau. In 2005, 50% of the international applications were published within 2 weeks after the expiration of 18 months from the priority, 86% were published within 2-3 weeks after and 97% within 3-4 weeks after.

Timeliness to publish applications

The graph below shows the timeliness of publication by the International Bureau of late-received search reports. The number of late-received search reports has increased markedly since 2002. In 2005, 35% were published by the International Bureau within 2 months of receipt, 80% within 2-3 months and 93% within 3-4 months.

Timeliness to republish applications

3.2.3 Outsourcing translation work as a means of handling the workload

The International Bureau has increased its reliance on outsourcing in 2005 as a means of dealing with the increasing workload in the area of the translation of abstracts and reports. Whereas the International Bureau has, for some years already, outsourced the translation into English of Japanese and Chinese abstracts and reports, it started outsourcing a broader range of language combinations in 2005. This has permitted the International Bureau to better cope with an important and sudden increase in its workload, resulting in particular from the issuance, under recent rule changes, of a written opinion by the International Searching Authorities in every international application.

 

3.3 International Bureau as Receiving Office

3.3.1 Percentage of growth between 2004 and 2005

The use of the International Bureau as receiving Office (RO/IB) increased in 2005. The RO/IB received 7’883 international applications, an increase of 10.9% compared with 2004, from applicants from 80 countries.

3.3.2 Breakdown by filing method

Of the 7’883 applications received at RO/IB, 45.3% were filed electronically. The graph below shows the changing share of filings on paper, filings on paper together with the Request Form on a diskette prepared electronically using the PCT-EASY functionality, and fully electronic filings (PDF and XML formats).

Applications filed with RO/IB by filing method

 

3.4 International Search

At the end of 2005, 12 Offices were operating as International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authorities.

3.4.1 Distribution of International Searching Authorities (ISAs)

The percentage of international applications searched by each ISA in 2005 is indicated below.

Applications searched by ISA in 2005

The table below shows the number of international search reports and written opinions of the International Searching Authority (WO-ISA)4 issued by each Searching Authority.

Number of international search reports issued by SA

3.4.2 Timeliness

The graph below shows the timeliness of issuance of International Search Reports (ISR). Over the last 5 years, the timeliness to issue ISR remains stable, although an increase in the number issued after 21 months is noticeable.

Timeliness of issue of ISRs

 

3.5 International Preliminary Examination

3.5.1 Distribution of International Preliminary Examining Authorities (IPEAs)

In 2005, filings of demands for international preliminary examination continued their expected downward trend of recent years - there was a decrease of about 41% over 2004 (see graph below). The trend is mostly due to the modification of the time limit for entry into the national phase in force since April 2002 and the introduction of the written opinion of the International Searching Authority (WO-ISA) in 2004, resulting in fewer applicants filing demands.

Demands for IPE

This table shows the number of demands for International Preliminary Examination by Examining Authority.

Demands for IPE by Searching Authority

3.5.2 Timeliness

Most of International Preliminary Examination Reports (IPERs) reach the International Bureau before 29 months from the priority date although there is still a significant number of later furnished reports.

IPEAs timeliness to furnish IPERs

 

3.6 National Phase Entry

In 2005, WIPO started to collect and disseminate PCT national phase information with the aim of filling the gap in the information available about PCT applications after the international phase. A preliminary report on PCT national phase entries has been published. The report contains analysis of PCT national phase entries by office, by country of origin and by technical field.

The information is based on data supplied to WIPO by national patent offices which have accepted to participate in this initiative.

This table shows PCT national phase entry statistics5 for 15 Offices.

PCT National Phase Entry statistics

 

4. ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT AND PCT

4.1 Electronic Processing of PCT International Applications within the International Bureau

In 2005, the International Bureau started to process certain international applications in a fully electronic manner, without the need for a paper file. International applications and associated documents received by the International Bureau in electronic form are now uploaded directly into an electronic dossier (E-dossier), and those received in paper form are scanned upon receipt and then imported into the E-dossier. This represents a radical change in the working methods of the staff, as they no longer work on the basis of a paper file.

Deployment of E-dossier at the International Bureau started progressively with the electronic processing of international applications filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland. The deployment is now almost complete, with the international applications from all but one receiving Office being processed in a fully electronic manner.

Electronic processing is aimed at securing longer term efficiency gains and providing improved services at the International Bureau, including the establishment of a comprehensive database of PCT-related documents and data in electronic form.

 

4.2 Electronic Exchange of Data between the International Bureau and Offices

Twelve Offices6, either in their capacities as receiving Offices and/or International Searching Authorities, have started transmitting record copies, international search reports and other documents to the International Bureau in electronic form, via the PCT Electronic Data Interchange Service (PCT EDI). This flexible, secure and automated mechanism enables Offices to exchange bulk data and documents with the International Bureau.

 

4.3 Electronic filing

4.3.1 Significant Move to E-filing

In 2005, 26.3% of the total number of international applications were filed electronically. It became possible to file international applications electronically with three more receiving Offices: the Australian Patent Office, the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, and the Netherlands Industrial Property Office. At the end of 2005, there were 12 receiving Offices that accepted filing in electronic form. Four further Offices were added in early 2006: the Polish Patent Office, the Romanian Office for Inventions and Trademarks, the Slovak Industrial Property Office, and the Swedish Patent and Registration Office.

The graph below shows the changing share of filings on paper, filings on paper together with a diskette prepared electronically using the PCT-EASY functionality, and fully electronic filings (E-filings) since 1998.

Share of filings by filing method

Filing Methods

4.3.2 PCT-SAFE Software

Several new builds of the PCT-SAFE (Secure Applications Filed Electronically) client software were released to introduce new functionality, new Offices and other PCT changes. By the end of 2005, a total of 73 receiving Offices were prepared to accept international applications containing requests prepared using the PCT-EASY functionality of the PCT-SAFE software, together with PCT-EASY diskettes (or other physical medium). Although applicants continue to take advantage of the benefits of the PCT-EASY functionality, there has been a reduction in its use as more applicants are now filing PCT applications in fully electronic form.

4.3.3 PCT-ROAD

The PCT-ROAD (Receiving Office Administration) system, a cooperation project between the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and WIPO, enabling electronic filing under the PCT on physical media, was deployed via an on-site training and installation process to four PCT receiving Offices as pilot Offices, Egypt, Israel, Philippines and Viet Nam. The PCT-ROAD software has been made available since early 2005 to any office which is interested in the system as well as the four pilot Offices for their feedback. By the end of 2005, the PCT-ROAD system had been introduced to 16 PCT receiving Offices.

 

5. DISSEMINATION OF PCT AND PATENT INFORMATION

5.1 Launch of the PATENTSCOPE® Web Portal

During the third quarter of 2005, the new PATENTSCOPE® web portal was launched. All information concerning WIPO’s patent and PCT-related services and activities are available via this portal, including access to published PCT applications.

 

5.2 World’s Technology Available Online

Over 1.2 million published PCT applications, including the latest bibliographic data and documents (such as priority documents, written opinions of the ISA, or international preliminary reports on patentability) are available online for free-of-charge consultation at http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/.

The service provides:

  • Advanced and rapid search facilities, including full-text search for applications published in English, French, German and Spanish since April 1998;
  • The complete collection of published PCT applications from the first publication in 1978 to the present day;
  • Access to new PCT applications on the publication date every week;
  • Facility for printing and/or downloading complete documents in a choice of formats;
  • The latest bibliographic data available on record at the International Bureau, including changes since publication;
  • Access to status information, published documents and file contents through a single system.

The International Bureau has also developed its own Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system. This permits the International Bureau to publish the searchable text of published international applications, together with their images, on the publication date. The International Bureau’s Optical Character Recognition started being deployed during the last quarter of 2005 and will be further deployed in 2006.

 

5.3 Full and exclusive electronic publication of PCT applications and the publication of the PCT Gazette solely in electronic form

In October 2005, the Member States decided that the PCT Gazette would no longer be made available in paper form, but would be published wholly in electronic form as from April 1, 2006. The content of the electronic Gazette has therefore been updated. WIPO published in July 2005 a prototype of the new version of the electronic Gazette, this prototype became the "official" Gazette on April 1, 2006.

From this date, international publication of PCT international applications takes place wholly in electronic form. This means that the legal publication of international applications is now the electronic publication. The electronic publication is available in several different formats on the date of publication on the PatentScope portal at www.wipo.int/pctdb.

 

5.4 Aggregate Patent Statistics

An initiative to enhance the International Bureau’s collection and dissemination of patent statistics has been started. As part of this initiative, the International Bureau has improved the data collection mechanism via a revised and modernized questionnaire. The data has been made available in a number of ways, including analytical reports and Internet-based queries for aggregate data.

 

5.5 Publication of IPC 8th Edition

A new, updated edition of the International Patent Classification (IPC) entered into force on January 1, 2006. As of that date, all published patent documents are classified according to the new edition. The eighth edition of the IPC is the product of a six-year process of reform designed to adapt the IPC to the electronic environment for improved efficiency in the retrieval of patent information and to facilitate its use by industrial property offices and the general public.

 

6. CHANGES IN THE PCT LEGAL FRAMEWORK

6.1 Changes in 2005

6.1.1 Amendments to PCT Regulations (entry into force: April 1, 2005)

A number of amendments to the PCT Regulations, as approved by the PCT Assembly in 2004, entered into force on April 1, 2005. The amendments related to the following matters:

  • Fee for late furnishing of paper or electronic version of sequence listing for the purposes of search and examination;
  • Simplified protest procedure before both the ISA and the IPEA in case of non-unity of invention; and
  • Corrigenda and consequential amendments to the Rule changes which entered into force on January 1, 2004.

6.1.2 Other Changes in 2005

  • Increasing number of International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authorities
    The National Board of Patents and Registration (Finland) started functioning as International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority in respect of international applications filed on or after April 1, 2005. This development brought the number of ISAs/IPEAs to twelve.
  • KIPO specified by RO/US as International Searching Authority
    The Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has been specified by RO/US as International Searching Authority for international applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Agreement between KIPO and USPTO was signed at the end of 2005 and entered into force on January 1, 2006.

 

6.2 Changes in 2006

6.2.1 Amendments to PCT Regulations (entry into force: April 1, 2006)

The PCT Assembly, in October 2005, approved a number of amendments concerning the following issues:

  • International publication and the PCT Gazette in electronic form - the move towards full and exclusive electronic publication of all international applications, and the publication of the PCT Gazette solely in electronic form (see Chapter 5 for more details);
  • Addition of Arabic as a language of publication;
  • Exceptions to the all-inclusive designation system; and
  • Publication of declarations relating to national requirements as part of the international application.

6.2.2 Future Work - Some Outstanding Issues

  • Supplementary Searches and International Publication in Multiple Languages
    The Working Group on Reform of the PCT will continue consideration of proposals on the publication of the international application in multiple languages and permitting supplementary searches to be carried out by International Authorities other than the main International Searching Authority.
  • Common Quality Framework for International Search and Preliminary Examination
    All twelve ISAs and IPEAs met in 2005 at two sessions of the Meeting of International Authorities (MIA). They agreed that future work should be undertaken on certain matters on which a common approach might be desirable, including quality standards, manuals and documentation, examiner skills and training, and quality metrics. It was felt that there were areas in which coordination and cooperation among the various Authorities would be productive. Dedicating proper importance to the quality of international search and preliminary examination builds confidence in the PCT system among Contracting States and encourages Offices to rely on the results of the work of the International Authorities.
  • PCT Minimum Documentation
    The MIA also agreed that two further traditional knowledge-related journals should be added to the list of non-patent literature that forms part of the PCT Minimum Documentation. The Meeting also supported a proposal by the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) that patent documents from the Republic of Korea should be included in the PCT Minimum Documentation. Such proposal was approved by the PCT Assembly in October 2005. For the longer term, task forces were set up to conduct a more comprehensive review of the concept of minimum documentation and to oversee development of a search guidance intellectual property digital library.

 

6.3 Changes in 2007 - Amendments to PCT Regulations (entry into force: April 1, 2007)

The amendments which will enter into force in 2007 relate to:

  • Missing elements and parts of the international application;
  • Restoration of the right of priority;
  • Rectification of obvious mistakes; and
  • Addition of patent documents from the Republic of Korea to the PCT Minimum Documentation.
 

7. PCT TRAINING

Around 110 seminars and presentations about the use and advantages of the PCT, and promotion of accession to it, were given by officials of the International Bureau to some 7’260 interested parties in the following languages: Arabic, English, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.

The seminars and presentations were held in the following 31 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

 

8. PCT CONTRACTING STATES

During 2005, four new Contracting States became bound by the PCT - Comoros, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Nigeria, and Saint Kitts and Nevis - bringing the number of States which had acceded to the PCT by December 31, 2005, to 1287, as follows:

Albania
Algeria
Antigua and Barbuda
Armenia
Australia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Barbados
Belarus
Belgium
Belize
Benin
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Bulgaria
Burkina Faso
Cameroon
Canada
Central African Republic
Chad
China
Colombia
Comoros
Congo
Costa Rica
Côte d’Ivoire
Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Denmark
Dominica
Ecuador
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Estonia
Finland
France
Gabon
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Ghana
Greece
Grenada
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Hungary
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Lesotho
Liberia
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg

Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mexico
Monaco
Mongolia
Morocco
Mozambique
Namibia
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Papua New Guinea
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Republic of Korea
Republic of Moldova
Romania
Russian Federation
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
San Marino
Senegal
Serbia and Montenegro
Seychelles
Sierra Leone

Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Syrian Arab Republic
Tajikistan
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Togo
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United Republic of Tanzania
United States of America
Uzbekistan
Viet Nam
Zambia
Zimbabwe

____________________________________________________

1 The country of origin of an application is the country of residence of the first-named applicant in the PCT Request form.
2 An application typically has multiple applicants. So this is why the number of applicants exceeds the number of PCT international applications.
3 This is the number of staff directly involved in processing, translating and publishing PCT international applications.
4 Since 2004.
5 As available at the International Bureau on the date of publication of this document (June 12, 2006).
6 Australia, Canada, China, Eurasian Patent Organization, Finland, France, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and Viet Nam.
7 Between the end of 2005 and the date of publication of this document, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Honduras have acceded to the PCT, bringing the total number of Contracting States to 130.

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