Tuesday 22 September 2009

Aggregate IP Data is Nice, But What About All Those Other Countries?

I guess I am a micro-man at heart, and I have never quite understood what one is to make of macro data on IP filings and registrations. Even without seeing the most recent data international data, most of us can usually predict in which countries most patents and trade marks are being filed and registered. More challenging are the implications of these data. I thought about this again in reading the blogpost of my fellow IP Finance blogger, Eva Lehnert, who brought to the readership's attention a WIPO Report on trends in intellectual property activity here. As noted, the report brings various data on filing and registration patterns for patents and utility models, trade marks and industrial designs.

Let's consider some of additional results to those previously reported in Lehnert's earlier blogpost:
1. Patent fillings were down in 2007; 59.2% of applications were filed in China, Japan, and the USA.

2. The patent offices of Japan, USA, Republic of Korea, China and the EPO accounted for 74.4% of the total patent grants.

3. There are at least 4.2 million pending patent applications, with the USA accounting for 28% of the backlog.

4. Trade mark registrations were up 6% in 2007, with the most noticeable increase being in Brazil Nearly one-fifth of trade marks were filed in China in 2007.

5. Japan, USA, France and Germany account for nearly 20% of trade marks in force. and nearly 125,000 trade marks in force were registered before 2007.

6. France accounted for the largest number of industrial designs in force in 2007.
Keeping these data in mind, I found a bit curious the statement made in the report's forward by the WIPO Director General Dr. Francis Gurry:
“History has shown … that companies and countries which continue to invest in new products and innovation during times of economic recession will be those that will be best positioned to take advantage of the recovery, when it arrives. IP statistics help us to understand the role of the IP system in stimulating and diffusing innovation, promoting markets for new products, and rewarding creativity.”
With all due respect, I do not quite see how these macro data tell us very much beyond the fact that registered IP is still the purview of the traditional filing countries plus China. If growth is what we are concerned about, then what about such countries as India, Brazil (trade marks aside), Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and Singapore? Even if the aggregate filing and registration data do not approach those of larger countries, what is the rate of increase in these countries? Do we observe any relationship between IP activity, on the one hand, and innovation and economic growth, on the other, on a country by country basis?

If WIPO has made these kinds of information available to the public, I would be grateful for further guidance how to obtain them. If not, where is this kind of information available? I, for one, would find this kind of information to be of particular interest.

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