Patent Cooperation Treaty Registers Record Growth in 1998

Geneva, February 12, 1999
Press Updates UPD/1999/49

In 1998, the worldwide use of the Patent Cooperation Treaty continued to grow considerably. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) received 67,007 international applications filed worldwide, which represents a 23.1% increase over 1997.

WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, welcomed this development and urged all States, in particular developing countries, to take advantage of this unique system that allows an applicant to seek patent protection in any of the 98 member States of the PCT through the filing of a single "international" application. "The rate of growth in the use of the PCT system in 1998 is very promising," he said, "this positive trend suggests that users are increasingly recognizing the advantages the PCT system offers to them in seeking patent protection in a large number of countries."

While applicants from the industrialized countries continue to be the main users of the PCT system, the statistics demonstrate growing use by several developing countries. Statistics for 1998 show that inventors and industry in several developing countries began using the system for the first time. These included Azerbaijan, Viet Nam, and Zimbabwe. Inventors and industry of other developing countries and economies in transition also made greater use of the PCT. In particular, Brazil, Cuba, Czech Republic, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Inventors and industry in the United States continued to be the biggest user of the PCT in 1998, with 42.3 % of all applications, followed by those of Germany (13.6%), Japan (9.1%), United Kingdom (6.5%) and France (5.0%).

Dr. Idris said "the PCT offers important possibilities to developing countries in establishing or developing their national patent systems in support of economic development". He encouraged all countries to "embrace the opportunities and advantages offered by the PCT" in their efforts to promote innovation and to attract foreign investment through protection of intellectual property.

By filing only one international application with one Office, the PCT applicant can obtain the effect of regular national filings in any or all of the states bound by the PCT, which currently stand at 98, without initially having to furnish a translation of the application or pay national fees. The national patent granting procedure and the related high expenses are postponed, in the majority of cases, by up to 18 months (or even longer in the case of some Offices). The PCT system offers to patent applicants a user-friendly and cost efficient route for filing.

During 1998, four new Contracting States became bound by the PCT: Cyprus, Croatia, Grenada and India. Two further States, the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, deposited their instruments of accession to the PCT in December 1998 and will become bound by the PCT on March 10 and 16, 1999, respectively.

Recognizing the importance of the Internet as a means of communicating information to users and potential users of the PCT, WIPO uploaded numerous further PCT materials on the Internet. Of particular significance was the uploading, as from April 1998, of the weekly publication of the PCT Gazette, of which Section I (Published International Applications) is in fully searchable form.

In a continued effort to ensure automation of the PCT system, the International Bureau released as of January 1, 1999, so-called PCT-EASY software. This was developed to enable applicants, through the use of its more than 165 validation checks, to avoid making mistakes in preparing the request part of their international applications. It is intended in the future that the software will facilitate the handling of international applications by Offices.

In order to reduce the cost of filing international applications, the Assembly of the PCT Union decided in September 1998 to decrease the maximum number of designation fees payable with effect from January 1, 1999, from 11 to 10. The maximum number of designations currently possible in an international application is 77. It also decided to introduce a 200 Swiss franc reduction where applicants prepare, to the extent permitted, the request form using the PCT-EASY software.

For further details, see the information note The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 1998 ."