Telecoms Firms Lead WIPO International Patent Filings
March 19, 2015
Three telecoms giants from China and the United States led international patent filing activity via WIPO in 2014, a fifth consecutive record-breaking year amid overall growth in the Organization’s global intellectual property services.
Together, China and the U.S. accounted for 87% of the total growth in filings under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which saw some 215,000 applications in 2014, a 4.5% increase over the previous year. In a significant development, the U.S. became the biggest filer of international trademark applications under WIPO’s Madrid System.
“The rapid growth in international patent applications underscores the increasing importance of intellectual property as it moves from the periphery to the center of the global economic system,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry on the release of WIPO’s annual review of its IP-filing and dispute resolution activities. “We are pleased that our filing services provide effective and efficient support for managing this trend.”
Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. of China, with 3,442 published PCT applications, overtook Panasonic Corp. of Japan as the largest applicant in 2014. U.S.-based Qualcomm Inc. was the second largest applicant in 2014, with 2,409 published applications, while China’s ZTE Corp. took third place with 2,179 PCT applications. (Annex 1 ).
The U.S. was the primary country of origin for PCT filers in 2014, with 61,492 applications and 7.1% growth. Japan followed with 42,459 applications, representing a 3% decline on 2013. Applicants from China filed 25,539 applications – an 18.7% annual increase.
Europe showed signs of improvement as it strives to address a challenging economic environment. For the first time since 2007, the top three E.U. countries recorded growth in PCT filings, with strong growth coming from France and the United Kingdom. (Annex 2 ).
PCT filing trends
Among the top 10 PCT filing countries, China (+18.7%) is the only country that saw double-digit growth in 2014. The U.K. recorded the second fastest growth rate (+9%), followed by the US (+7.1%). In addition to Japan, Switzerland (-5.9%) and Sweden (-0.5%) are the two other countries among the top ten with fewer PCT applications in 2014 than in 2013.
After China, India (1,394) is the largest user of the PCT system among BRICS countries, followed by the Russian Federation (890), Brazil (581) and South Africa (297). However, their growth rates differ, with Brazil (-11.6%), the Russian Federations (-25.3%) and South Africa (-15.4%) showing declines, while filings originating from India increased by 5.6%. Turkey (802), Malaysia (314) and Mexico (284) are other middle-income countries seeing considerable filing activity under the PCT.
Top PCT applicants
The top three applicants have similar patent filing profiles, with digital communication accounting for the bulk of their total filings. Digital communication accounted for two-thirds of all PCT applications filed by Huawei, followed by computer technology and telecommunications, with each field accounting for 11% of the total. Qualcomm had a similar PCT filing profile to that of Huawei, with digital communication accounting for two-fifths of their total applications, followed by computer technology (18%), audio-visual technology (11%) and telecommunications (10%). As for ZTE, digital communication accounted for slightly over three-fifths of all filings, followed by computer technology (14%) and telecommunications (13%).
Among the top 50 applicants, Huawei (+1,332) saw the largest increases in PCT filings, followed by Tencent Technology Co. of China (+727) and Microsoft Corp. of the US (+652). In contrast, Panasonic Corp. (-1,157) and Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha of Japan (-612) saw the largest declines (Annex 1 ).
The University of California, with 413 published applications, is the top applicant among educational institutions followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (234), the University of Texas System (154) and Harvard University (147). US universities occupy 9 of the top 10 positions among educational institutions.
The only non-U.S. university in the top ten is Seoul National University of the Republic of Korea – ranked in the tenth position. Annex 3 reports data for the top 50 applicants among educational institutions.
PCT filings by field of technology
Computer technology with 17,653 published applications – or 8.4% of the total – accounted for the largest share of PCT applications, followed by digital communication (7.7%) and electronic machinery (7.3%). Annex 4 reports data for 35 different technology fields. Amongst the top 10 fields, computer technology saw the fastest growth (+19.4%), followed by medical technology (+17.1%) and digital communication (+14.5%). The share of computer technology filings in total applications has increased from 3% in 1990 to 8% in 2014. Similarly, the share of digital communications has increased from less than 1% in 1990 to 8% in 2014. Microsoft is the top applicant for computer technology, followed by Intel Corp. and Tencent Technology.
While pharmaceutical patent filings experienced an upward trend up to 2007, they have since stagnated. Relative to total applications, the share of pharmaceutical patenting via the PCT has continuously declined since 2007. Pharmaceutical patents represent the seventh largest field. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. is the largest filer with 171 applications, followed by Novartis AG (141), F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG (135) and the University of California (111).
Universities and public research organizations show a strong presence in this field, accounting for 26% of pharmaceutical PCT filings. This is in contrast to computer technology and digital communication where these entities accounted for 4.6% and 2.8%, respectively.
International trademark applications filed under the WIPO-administered Madrid System grew to a record 47,885 in 2014, representing 2.3% growth on 2013. The U.S. accounted for more than half of the total growth, overtaking Germany as the largest user of the System (Annex 5 ).
“The 2014 results show that the Madrid System is becoming a truly global system,” said Mr. Gurry. “While traditionally European focused, the fact that the U.S. has become the biggest user and that many non-European countries have joined the System since the early 2000s is testimony to the global relevance of this WIPO service.”
Among the top origins, Australia (+23.3%) and the U.K. (+19.3%) saw double-digit growth in 2014, while France (-9.9%), China (-5.5%), Germany (-4.8%) and the Netherlands (-4.2%) saw declines. Beyond the top 10, Turkey (1,294) and the Russian Federation (1,276) are also large users of the Madrid System. Two recent Madrid members – India (+273%) and Mexico (+74%) – saw considerable increase in their Madrid filing.
Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis heads the list of top filers, with 281 applications in 2014, followed by Glaxo Group of the U.K. (234) – another pharmaceutical company. (Annex 6 ). Among the top 50 applicants Glaxo Group (+174 additional filings) saw the largest growth in filings in 2014.
China (20,309 designations) is the most designated member country in international registrations, followed by the European Union (17,270), the U.S. (17,268), the Russian Federation (16,573) and Japan (12,814) (Annex 5 ). Except China, all other top five members received fewer designations in 2014 than in 2013.
Designs contained in international industrial design applications filed under the Hague System increased to 14,441 designs in 2014, representing growth of 9.6% over 2013.
Germany, with 3,868 designs, was the largest user of the Hague system, followed by Switzerland (3,189) and France (1,559) (Annex 7 ). Among the top 10 origins, Liechtenstein saw the fastest growth in filings – albeit starting from a low base – followed by Turkey and Austria. Italy and the Netherlands are two origins with fewer filings in 2014 than in 2013.
Swatch AG of Switzerland, with 98 applications, continued to be the largest individual filer, followed by Procter & Gamble Co. of the U.S. (95) and Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (62). For the first time, two Asian companies – Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea (ranked 6th) and Lenovo of China (ranked 7th) appear in the list of top 10 applicants (Annex 8 ).
The total number of designs contained in designations of international applications declined from 67,113 in 2013 to 65,479 in 2014. The EU received the most designations (17.5%), followed by Switzerland (15.7%) and Turkey (9.7%). The Republic of Korea, which joined the Hague system only in July 2014, received 1.5% of all designations (Annex 7 ).
Internet Domain Name Dispute Resolution, IP Mediation and Arbitration
Since the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center administered the first Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case in 1999, total WIPO case filings have passed the 30,000 mark, encompassing over 58,000 domain names. (Annex 9 ). In 2014, cybersquatting case filings with WIPO increased by 2%, with 2,634 cases concerning 5,591 domain names lodged by trademark owners alleging abuse of their mark. Country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) accounted for 13% of all filings, with 72 national domain registries now designating this WIPO service.
Meanwhile, registrations in new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) being introduced have started to trigger UDRP cases. With some 500 out of an applied-for 1,400 new gTLDs operational, registrations in these domains represented 3.9% of domain names (227) in WIPO’s 2014 caseload compared to 65.2% in the .com top-level domain (66.4% in 2013).
WIPO UDRP cases in 2014 involved parties from 108 countries. The U.S., with 849 cases filed, was the largest WIPO filer, followed by France (325), the U.K. (188), Germany (183) and Switzerland (130). (Annex 10 ) Among the top five users, the U.S. (+14.3%) saw the highest growth in cases filed. The top three sectors of complainant activity were retail (13% of all cases), banking and finance (11%) and fashion (10%). (Annex 11 ) Philip Morris of Switzerland heads the list of filers – 81 cases – followed by Banco Bradesco of Brazil (46), Swarovski of Austria (46) and LEGO of Denmark (35). (Annex 12 ) Cases were decided by 297 WIPO panelists from 43 countries, with 16 different languages of proceedings.
For all types of intellectual property disputes, the WIPO Center in 2014 issued updated WIPO Rules incorporating the latest developments in international arbitration.
Top PCT filers are involved in standards-related disputes involving telecom patents in multiple jurisdictions. The WIPO Center in 2014 made available tailored agreements that companies involved in the telecom industry may use to refer a dispute concerning fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms to WIPO Mediation and Arbitration.
The WIPO Center has begun offering services to Intellectual Property Offices and Copyright Offices for their establishment of optional alternative dispute resolution (ADR) frameworks. Such collaborations aim to provide cost-effective and flexible options for parties to resolve their disputes before such Offices in relation to pending applications or granted rights.
The PCT System facilitates the acquisition of patent rights in multiple jurisdictions. It simplifies the process of multiple national patent filings by delaying the requirement to file a separate application in each jurisdiction in which protection is sought. However, the decision of whether or not to grant patents remains the prerogative of national or regional patent offices, and patent rights are limited to the jurisdiction of the patent granting authority. The PCT system now has 148 member states.
For data updates and additional analysis on the performance of the PCT system in 2014, consult the PCT Yearly Review: The International Patent System, which will be published on WIPO’s Intellectual Property Statistics website in April 2015.
The Madrid System makes it possible for an applicant to apply for a trademark in a large number of countries by filing a single international application at a national or regional IP office of a country/region that is party to the system. It simplifies the process of multinational trademark registration by reducing the requirement to file an application at the IP office in each country in which protection is sought. The system also simplifies the subsequent management of the mark, since it is possible to record further changes or to renew the registration through a single procedural step.
For data updates and additional analysis on the performance of the Madrid system in 2014, consult the Madrid Yearly Review: International Registrations of Marks, which will be published on WIPO’s Intellectual Property Statistics website in April 2015.
The Hague System makes it possible for an applicant to register industrial designs in multiple countries by filing a single application with the International Bureau of WIPO. By allowing the filing of up to 100 different designs per application, the system offers significant opportunities for efficiency gains. Moreover, it simplifies the process of multinational registration by reducing the requirement to file separate applications with the IP offices of each Hague member country/region in which protection is sought. The system also streamlines the subsequent management of the industrial design registration, since it is possible to record changes or to renew the registration through a single procedural step.
For data updates and additional analysis on the performance of the Hague system in 2014, consult the Hague Yearly Review: International Registrations of Industrial Designs, which will be published on WIPO’s Intellectual Property Statistics website in April 2015.
WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, with an office in Singapore, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center offers Alternative Dispute Resolution options for the resolution of international commercial disputes between private parties. The arbitration, mediation and expert determination procedures provided by the WIPO Center are recognized as particularly appropriate for technology, entertainment and other disputes involving IP. The WIPO Center also provides domain name dispute resolution services.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 192 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society's evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.For further information, please contact the Media Relations Section at WIPO:
- Tel: (+41 22) 338 81 61 / 338 72 24
- Fax: (+41 22) 338 81 40