The number of international patents filed increased dramatically in 2010, according to a recent report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The total number of international patent filings grew by 4.8 percent from 2009 to 2010, the report said. In 2009, 155,398 patent applications were filed, while provisional data indicated approximately 162,900 patent applications were filed in 2010.
China, Japan and South Korea saw the fastest growth in patent filings. According to WIPO, the number of patents filed in China grew by approximately 56.2 percent to 12,337, making China the fourth-ranking country in patent filings, after the United States, Japan and Germany.
The U.S. experienced a decline of 1.7 percent in the number of patent applications filed, but remained the largest user of the international Patent Cooperation Treaty system, with 44,855 patent applications filed in 2010.
“The fast growth rates from East Asia reflect acceleration in the geographic diversification of innovative activities,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry. "This trend has many implications, not least an increased linguistic diversity of the technology that patent offices use as a basis for determining whether an invention is patentable.”
International patents, and intellectual property management software that more and more companies are adopting, are widely seen as an important tool for ensuring the profitability of innovation.