World Intellectual Property Organization

News Roundup

November 2006

WIPO Report Shows Internationalization of Patent Trends

The WIPO Patent Report 2006, released on October 16, shows that companies are increasingly using the IP system to protect their investments in new markets. The Report presents an overview of worldwide patenting activity based on statistics up to the end of 2004.

The number of patent applications filed worldwide almost doubled between 1985 to 2004, with an average annual rate of increase of 4.75 percent since 1995. This is in line with the average annual growth in world gross domestic product (GDP) of some 5.6 percent.

Five patent offices (United States of America, Japan, European Patent Office, Republic of Korea and China) account for 75 percent of all patent applications and 74 percent of all patents granted.

The Report shows a boom in patent filings in northeast Asia over the past 20 years, reflecting the emergence of countries such as China and the Republic of Korea as major industrial economies. Patent filings by Chinese residents grew more than five-fold between 1995 and 2004, while filings by residents of the Republic of Korea increased three-fold. Other countries recording high rates of increase in patent filings during this period included Brazil, India and Mexico.

The Report highlights the popularity of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) as a tool for companies seeking broad-based patent protection. The number of PCT applications grew at an average annual rate of 16.8 percent between 1990 and 2005 and topped 134,000 international applications in 2005. The PCT is now used in 47 percent of all international patent filings.

The comprehensive report in an easily accessible format shows the distribution of patent activity around the world and contains detailed information on some of the important trends of the patent system. Currently available on the WIPO website, the Report will also be available in print from the end of the year.

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Fighting like with like. Warner Brothers’ early release of the Superman Returns DVD, at a low price, is designed to win consumers back to the legitimate market. (Image - Warner Bros)

Superman Takes on DVD Pirates

Seeking to beat Chinese DVD pirates at their own game, Warner Brothers have released the DVD of Hollywood blockbuster Superman Returns two months earlier in China than in the rest of the world – and just three months after the film was first released in China. The film had pulled in 31.7 million yuan (over US$4 million) at Chinese box offices during its first week and the manufacturers of pirate DVDs were anticipating massive demand.

Calculating that consumers buy pirated DVDs primarily because they are cheaper and because they do not want to have to wait for the legitimate product, CAV brought out their early release Superman Returns DVD in a low-cost version at 14 yuan (US$1.77). While still not as cheap as the pirate copies, this offered consumers an attractively priced legitimate alternative.

The initiative also targeted distribution channels, pushing out beyond the big stores to put legitimate DVDs on the shelves of 8,000 retail outlets. Mark Horak, executive vice president and general manager of Warner Home Video, explained to the Reuters news agency: "Imagine walking through a city and every 100 yards or so is a little store that sells pirated products. The campaign we put together behind Superman Returns is intended to build out our distribution in those stores that previously only sold pirated products."

The initiative by CAV Warner Home Entertainment, a joint venture between Warner Home Video and China Audio Video, was supported by the Chinese government, whose "100 Day Campaign Against Piracy" ran from August to October.

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The course will prepare graduates for entrepreneurial careers in science and technology fields, says course leader Giuliano Premier. (Courtesy of the University of Glamorgan)

Masters of Invention

A new Masters degree course at the University of Glamorgan in Wales, United Kingdom, due to start in 2007, will seek to equip aspiring inventors with the skills and knowledge to take their intellectual property out of the laboratory and into the market-place.

The Masters in Invention and Innovation, is conceived for graduates in engineering, sciences and technology who have an innovative idea for a new product or service which they believe has commercial potential. The program, to be based in the faculty of Advanced Technology, will combines modules from across the University, including intellectual property law, business planning and marketing, as well as research methodology and modeling.

"More often than not, good ideas are quietly forgotten in favor of a secure income from alternative employment," says course leader Giuliano Premier. "With this course, students can uniquely gain an MSc qualification while indulging an ambition to develop a product or service and testing its commercial feasibility. The environment provides physical and intellectual resources that would otherwise not be available to the individual."

The MSc has been championed by a panel of experts, including successful local inventors and representatives of the Wales Innovators Network.. It is also supported by the Welsh Development Agency and other government bodies.

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The 900,000th trademark

900,000 Trademarks Registered under the Madrid System

The 900,000th mark was registered in October under the Madrid System for the international registration of trademarks, the user-friendly and cost-effective system for the international registration of marks administered by WIPO. At the current rate of growth, it is anticipated that the one millionth mark under the Madrid system will be reached in 2009. The 900,000 milestone was registered by a Chinese company, seeking protection in ten countries for its Gryphon trademark, for use on glassware and ceramics. China, which became a member of the Madrid system in 1989, is now the eighth largest user of the system.

The largest share of the 33,565 international trademark applications received by WIPO in 2005 was filed by users in Germany (17.3 percentof the total), followed by users in France, the United States of America, Benelux , Italy, Switzerland, and the European Community. Applications from developing countries increased by 30.6 percent compared to 2004.

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