2000 Marked Record Growth in Use of PCT

Geneva, February 13, 2001
Press Updates UPD/2001/124

Use of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) hit a record high in 2000 when the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) received over 90,000 international applications, a 22.9% increase on figures for 1999. For the tenth consecutive year, inventors and industry from the United States of America (42% of all applications in 2000), Germany (13.2%), Japan (10.3%), the United Kingdom (6.1%), and France (4.0%) topped the list of biggest users of the system. The PCT, a unique global system that facilitates the process of obtaining patent protection in multiple countries, continued to grow last year as the number of international applications filed rose to 90,948 representing a notional equivalent of just under 8.5 million national patent applications. PCT applications have such a broad potential effect because they contain the designations of all PCT member states in which protection is sought. At the end of 2000, the PCT had a membership of 109 States.

"Sustained growth in the use of the PCT is testimony to its relevance as a practical, cost-effective and timely option for businesses that are seeking to convert their know-how into concrete commercial assets through patent protection", said Dr. Kamil Idris, Director General of WIPO. "By filing a patent application under the PCT, an applicant may apply for patent protection in any or all of the more than 100 PCT member states. This significantly reduces the time and money that needs to be invested in obtaining patent protection", he added.

Use of the PCT in developing countries was also marked by rapid growth and expanding geographical reach in 2000, as the number of international applications filed by developing countries rose by 80%. Users in the Republic of Korea, China and South Africa generated the largest number of PCT filings among developing countries and the percentage increase compared to 1999 statistics was particularly high in India (155.8%), China (141.3%) and the Republic of Korea (91.6%).

Expanding PCT Membership

To further expand its international coverage, WIPO actively promoted accession to the PCT in 2000 and continued to raise awareness about the advantages of the system among potential users in states which are not yet members. In 2000, four additional countries joined the PCT, namely, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Mozambique and Belize. Colombia also joined the PCT in December 2000 and will become bound by the agreement on February 28, 2001.

Fee Reductions

Last year, PCT member states decided on a fee decrease equivalent to a reduction of 17% in PCT fees for more than two-thirds of PCT applicants making over 6 country designations per application. This fee decrease is in respect of designation fees. The new lower fee took effect on January 1, 2001, which is the fourth consecutive year in which PCT fees have been lowered, leading to a total 44% reduction in fees since 1998.

Further PCT Improvements

A number of amendments to the PCT Regulations which are designed to streamline and simplify PCT procedures will become effective on March 1, 2001.

PCT Reform

The new millennium marked a turning point in the history of the PCT, as member states embarked on a process of PCT reform. In its autumn 2000 session, the PCT Assembly decided that a special body would be set up, consisting of member states, international searching and preliminary examining authorities and selected intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, to consider proposals for reform of the PCT.

PCT Automation

Significant progress was made in 2000 on the IMPACT (Information Management for the PAtent Cooperation Treaty ) project, the aim of which is to create systems for electronic processing of international applications and for PCT-related electronic communication between offices and authorities.

Additionally, progress was also made towards establishing the legal framework and technical standards for electronic filing and processing of PCT applications.

PCT-EASY (Electronic Application SYstem)

An increasing number of applicants are taking advantage of the benefits of preparing the request part of their PCT application using the PCT-EASY software. Of the 90,948 international applications filed in 2000, 24,882 (27.4%) were prepared using the PCT-EASY software. The PCT-EASY software facilitates the preparation of PCT international applications and other related documents and enables applicants, through the use of about 200 validation checks to avoid making mistakes at the filing stage. For further information on PCT-EASY see http://www.pcteasy.wipo.int.

WIPO as Receiving Office

In 2000, 2,045 international applications from 50 countries were filed directly with the receiving office of WIPO in Geneva. WIPO's Director General also decided, effective January 1, 2001, to reduce the transmittal fee charged by the receiving office from 300 Swiss francs to 100 Swiss francs and that those applicants who presently qualify for a 75% reduction in the international fee would not pay any transmittal fee when filing international applications with that office.

Breakdown According to IPC Categories

Below is a breakdown of PCT applications filed in 2000, according to the subject matter categories listed in the International Patent Classification (IPC), a worldwide patent classification system for technology fields (for further information on the IPC, please refer to http://classifications.wipo.int):

Chemistry; metallurgy 20.9%
Human necessities 18.4%
Physics 18.0%
Electricity 17.6%
Performing operations; transporting 14.8%
Mechanical engineering; lighting; heating;
weapons; blasting 6.1%
Fixed constructions 2.8%
Textiles; paper 1.4%

The system established by the PCT means that, by filing only one international application with one office, the PCT applicant initiates a process equivalent to submission of regular national applications in any number of the countries that adhere to the PCT and which are designated in the PCT application 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) as compared with the traditional patent system, by which time the applicant will have received important value-added information concerning the likelihood of obtaining patent protection for his invention as well as potential commercial interest in that invention.

For further information on the PCT and its activities, please refer to https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/ and/or contact the Media Relations & Public Affairs Section at WIPO: Tel: + 41 22 338 81 61 or 338 95 47; Fax: + 41 22 338 88 10; E-mail: publicinf@wipo.int.