Traditionally, at the end of each year, the Global Dossier Task Force (GDTF) publishes a detailed statistical report on patent activity of the five leading patent offices in the world (IP5), including USPTO (USA), JPO (Japan), KIPO (South Korea), EPO (EPC states) and CNIPA (China). According to the data from the report, in 2017 they accounted for 91% of all patents in force worldwide, and if at the end of 2016 this totalled 11.8 million patents, then by the end of 2017 it had grown to 13.6 million. EPO (32%) and USPTO (22%) retained their leading positions. CNIPA, JPO and KIPO accounted for 15%, 15% and 7%, respectively. Over the past 10 years, the share of active patents in the USPTO has decreased noticeably (from 28% to 22%), and in Japan (from 19% to 15%); however, it has increased significantly in CNIPA.
According to the updated data provided in the report, in 2017 94% of all registered patent applications in the world were filed in one of the IP5 offices. In 2018, 2.8 million patent applications were filed with these offices, or 6% more than in 2017. In terms of patents, IP5 members issued 1.2 million patents in 2018 (+ 1.4%).
The most international in 2018 were the patent offices of EPC states and the United States, where the percentage of non-residents - patent applicants - was 53 and 51%, respectively. Other members of the alliance were less “hospitable”, having a much lower share of non-residents - 23% in KIPO and 10% in CNIPA. In the EPO in 2018, representatives of the United States and Japan were patented more than others from the IP5 alliance, and residents of the EPC states and Japan in the USPTO. In CNIPA, representatives of EPC states, the United States, and Japan patented in almost equal shares, but insignificant, compared to residents.
The EPO showed a significant positive trend, with 127,625 new patents granted in 2018, or 20% more than in the previous year. Regarding patent applications, the EPO did not have such a significant result, but the total number of registered applications increased by almost 5%.
Also, in CNIPA there has been an increase in all categories. Here, the number of patent applications compared with 2017 increased by 11.7%, and the number of patents granted increased by 2.9%.
South Korea's patent office had mixed indicators. Thus, the number of registered patent applications here increased by 2.5%, and the number of patents granted decreased by an insignificant 1.4%.
The year of 2018 in USPTO and JPO was less productive compared to the previous one. The number of patent applications decreased by 1.6% and 1.5%, and patents decreased by 3.5% and 2.5%, respectively.
In 2018, very noticeable changes occurred in the distribution of patent documents among the main technological areas. It should be noted that patent applications accumulate more relevant technical solutions, and the patents contain claims formulated on average 5-7 years ago. The share of the consolidated direction “Electrical machinery, apparatus, energy” among other technological areas for IP5 alliance members ranged from 7% (EPO, USPTO) to 10% (JPO) for patents and from 6% to 9% for patent applications. A significant decrease in the interest of inventors in patenting in this direction in the year under review was recorded in the patent offices of the USPTO, JPO, and partially KIPO. On the other hand, the volume of patent applications in CNIPA for this subject increased by a substantial 16%, while the volume of patents granted by EPO increased by 14%. For such technological areas as "Environmental technology", "Engines, pumps, turbines", "Basic materials chemistry", "Micro-structural and nano-technology" the annual changes were generally insignificant, except for a sharp increase of 20% in the number of patents issued in the EPO on the subject of “Engines, pumps, turbines.” But technologies such as “Chemical Engineering” and “Transport” recorded substantial fluctuations. Whereas in the "Transport" category EPO was again the leader in terms of the number of issued patents (+ 28%), for "Chemical Engineering" there was an avalanche-like increase in the number of registered patent applications in CNIPA - by more than 30%.
In addition, the following must be mentioned:
- …At USPTO, 49% of the granted patents are maintained for the 20 years from filing. This compared to 35% at the JPO, 26 % at the CNIPA, 21% at the EPO and 14% at the KIPO;
- in patent documents drawn up by members of the alliance, one patentee is recorded in 62-70%, in 22-29% - two, in 7-11% of cases three or more;
- CNIPA remains the world leader in the number of registered utility model applications, as well as design applications; in terms of the number of trademark applications; followed by the United States.