WIPO Pledges to Boost Its Patent Statistics Activities

Geneva, September 19, 2003
Press Releases PR/2003/354

At the conclusion this week of the first public conference on the use of patent statistics to analyze economic and technological trends hosted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Organization pledged to boost its activities relating to patent statistics. WIPO also announced the development of a web portal for patent statistics with links to institutions with long-standing experience in generating information in this area. The conference, attended by some 200 specialists from 35 countries and designed to foster communication among policy makers, national and regional intellectual property (IP) offices, patent attorneys, statisticians and research institutions, sought to identify ways to more effectively use intellectual property statistics as indicators of technological development and economic growth.

WIPO Assistant Director General, Mr. Francis Gurry, said that "WIPO will place renewed vigor on its activities in the patent statistics area" in light of the growing importance of IP in development and technological progress. He said that WIPO was committed to collecting clearer, more accurate and more complete international industrial property statistics.

Mr. Gurry said that the increased centrality of intellectual property within the knowledge economy had fuelled claims about the role of intellectual property in general. The conference, he said, was an important step towards establishing an empirically based understanding of the role of the intellectual property system generally and patents, in particular. Mr. Gurry said "we think it is particularly important to move away from anecdote and rhetoric towards empirical data to properly understand the role of intellectual property and the purpose of this conference is to gain insights into this question."

The Conference covered three principal uses of patent statistics - by IP offices for strategic planning, by private sector companies in performing competitive market analyses and formulating patenting strategy and by economists and government policy makers in understanding innovation, economic growth and in analyzing potential changes to the legal system.

Users of patent statistics underlined the need for statistical data that respond to requirements of a wide-ranging user community. In particular, they stressed the need for data that is accurate, uniform, easily accessible and available in a timely manner. The conference further called for greater coordination between patent information specialists, and professionals from the business, intellectual property and economic spheres to, for example, establish best practices in categorizing and analyzing data.

The conference was followed by a two-day technical workshop on statistics in the patent field co-organized by WIPO and the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation Development (OECD) on September 18 and 19. The OECD is an internationally recognized research body with long-standing experience in the field of patent statistics and economic analysis. This technical meeting brought together science and technology specialists and statisticians from 19 countries.

Discussions focused on the state-of-the-art in patent statistics, the improvement of quality and availability of statistics, and methods for forecasting patent filings. The workshop provided an opportunity for WIPO and the OECD to enhance cooperation with those intellectual property offices that already have significant experience in patent statistics-related issues, such as the European Patent Office (EPO), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and statistical institutions. WIPO and the OECD agreed to increase their collaboration in the area of patent statistics.

Patents, as a primary source of technological information, offer a unique resource for analyzing the process of technological change and measuring the knowledge base and competitive position of a given industry or country. Data contained in patents and patent-related documents are valuable in formulating effective technology policies in both private and public sectors at regional, national, and international levels. The conference and the technical workshop were designed to promote better understanding of how patent statistics may be better used as a strategic economic planning tool for policy makers and to assist companies in strengthening their patenting strategies.

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