International Patent Applications Rise in 2008 Despite Global Slowdown

By Gene Quinn
February 3, 2009

International patent filings under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) grew by 2.4% in 2008, to nearly 164,000 applications, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  While the rate of growth was not as high as it was during the previous three years, when the average growth rater of applications was 9.3%, the total number of PCT applications filed during 2008 represents the highest number of applications received under the PCT in any single year.  Thus, while the world struggles with a global economic crisis, those companies that depend on patent protection to solidify and maintain their dominant market positions continue to file patent applications to protect their innovations. 

At a time when many are questioning the benefit in filing patent applications and suggesting to independent inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses that it just doesn’t make sense to file a patent application, large corporations around the world obviously feel otherwise.  If your goal is to establish and grow your company do you think you should be listening to those who attempt to persuade you that patents are not very important, or would you rather follow the lead of those companies with dominant market positions?  As a rule of thumb I would always tend to follow the lead of those who are successful and question with great skepticism those who tell you what you want to hear.  While patents can no doubt be expensive to obtain their benefit is clear, as evidences by increased patent applications by giant corporations that are built on innovative products and services. 

Continued use of international patent applications filed pursuant to the PCT indicates that companies recognize the importance of sustained investment in research, development and innovation to remain competitive even during challenging economic times.  In fact, the reality is that during troubled times companies that cut research and development, or patent activities, will find that their ability to compete severely and substantially compromised once the downturn or recession is over. 

According to Mr. Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO:

Historically, patent filings tend to dip during periods of economic difficulty simply because fewer resources are available for investment in the innovation cycle. Once the economic cycle improves, patenting activity tends also to recover. That said, economic crises have, in the past, been a catalyst for innovation as greater emphasis is placed on improving standards of efficiency, doing more with less and identifying and developing smarter business solutions.  In the current economic climate, technology, innovation and creativity are critical in creating opportunities for economic renewal and addressing pressing global issues such as climate change.”

Top 50 PCT Applicants in 2008

Rank Applicant’s Name Origin Published Applications
1 HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO., LTD. CN 1737
2 PANASONIC CORPORATION JP 1729
3 KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS ELECTRONICS N.V. NL 1551
4 TOYOTA JIDOSHA KABUSHIKI KAISHA JP 1364
5 ROBERT BOSCH GMBH DE 1273
6 SIEMENS AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT DE 1089
7 NOKIA CORPORATION FI 1005
8 LG ELECTRONICS INC. KR 992
9 TELEFONAKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON (PUBL) SE 984
10 FUJITSU LIMITED JP 983
11 QUALCOMM INCORPORATED US 907
12 NEC CORPORATION JP 825
13 SHARP KABUSHIKI KAISHA JP 814
14 MICROSOFT CORPORATION US 805
15 MOTOROLA, INC. US 778
16 BASF SE DE 721
17 INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION US 664
18 3M INNOVATIVE PROPERTIES COMPANY US 663
19 SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. KR 639
20 E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY US 517
21 MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORPORATION JP 503
22 PIONEER CORPORATION JP 497
23 HEWLETT-PACKARD DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, L.P. US 493
24 CONTINENTAL AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT DE 485
25 THOMSON LICENSING FR 461
26 ELECTRONICS AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH KR 443
27 THE PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY US 412
28 NXP B.V. NL 407
29 SONY ERICSSON MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS AB SE 402
30 BSH BOSCH UND SIEMENS HAUSGERÄTE GMBH DE 393
31 INTEL CORPORATION US 377
32 INA-SCHAEFFLER KG DE 374
33 DAIKIN INDUSTRIES, LTD. JP 367
34 THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA US 343
35 HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC. US 339
36 RENAULT S.A.S. FR 335
37 KYOCERA CORPORATION JP 332
38 ZTE CORPORATION CN 329
39 GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY US 326
40 TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INCORPORATED US 308
41 SONY CORPORATION JP 307
42 EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY US 299
43 BAKER HUGHES INCORPORATED US 295
43 NOVARTIS AG CH 295
45 APPLE COMPUTER, INC. US 289
46 FRAUNHOFER-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FÖRDERUNG DE 287
47 DOW GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES INC. US 285
48 NIKON CORPORATION JP 284
49 THE BOEING COMPANY US 281
50 CANON KABUSHIKI KAISHA JP 280

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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Discuss this

There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. MaxDrei February 19, 2009 2:36 am

    Mr Quinn, am I right that the data is of WO publications in calendar 2008? The WO publishes 18 months after the filing date. So, how much comfort can you legitimately draw, about filings in Q4 2008, from data on the number of 2008 WO’s? Now me, I am expecting many of those WO’s not to make it into the national phase. How about you?

  2. Leroy May 1, 2010 1:34 am

    Siemens and Samsung are competing both in the electronics and telecomms industry which of the two Patents have a larger client database and market share ?