The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has released its annual report detailing global statistics on intellectual property (IP).  The report - World Intellectual Property Indicators 2015 (WIPI 2015) - provides a wide range of data covering many areas of IP including patents, trademarks, industrial designs, microorganisms and plant varieties.

Drawing on data from national and regional IP offices, WIPO and the World Bank, WIPI 2015 reports that innovators filed 2.7 million patent applications worldwide in 2014, up 4.5% from 2013. Filings in China were the main driver of growth.  Total applications in China outstripped the next two countries (USA plus Japan) combined (see figure below).  These figures support the picture we are seeing as IP rights in China become increasingly respected and enforceable.

The Top 5 patent offices in 2014 by applications received were:

China (928,177)(+12.5%)

USA (578,802)(+1.3%)

Japan (325,989)(-0.7%)

Republic of Korea (210,292)(+2.8%)

European Patent Office (EPO, 152,662)(+3.2%)

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Interestingly, Iran saw the fastest growth in patent applications filed (+18.5%).  This is almost certainly down to the proposed lifting of economic sanctions against Iran that have been in place since 1979.  

East and south-east Asian countries also saw strong growth in applications filed.  China (+12.5%) saw the second fastest growth in filings, followed by Indonesia (+7.7%), and Thailand (+7.1%). Other Pacific rim middle-income countries Viet Nam (+11.3%), and the Philippines (+9.3%) recorded strong growth in filings.

New Zealand shows strong growth in patent filings

New Zealand had a total of 7728 patent applications, up 14% from 6781 in 2013.  This ranks it 21st in terms of number of applications filed in each state.  79% of applications made in New Zealand were made by non-resident applicants up from 73% in 2013. 

Of non-resident applicants, 2600 (33%) were from the USA followed by 813 (11%) from Australia.  There seems to be little appetite for Chinese applicants to extend their patent protection to New Zealand with only 103 NZ patent applications originating from China.  This equates to 0.01% of the total 928,177 filed in China.  The 920,449 patents filed in China that were not filed in New Zealand represent a body of knowledge and technology that any Kiwi company could access and use (provided no other IP rights apply in New Zealand). 

Australia sees decline in total numbers

Australia recorded a 12.7% year-on-year decline in applications filed in 2014 with 25,956.  This ended the growth it had witnessed over the previous four years, with decreases in both resident and non-resident applications.  Non-resident applications in Australia account for 92% of the total.  44% of Australia’s applications originated in the USA.  

Innovation indicators

One indicator of innovation by a country is how many resident patent applications are filed per 100 billion USD GDP.  Encouragingly, New Zealand comes in 13th in the world with 1046.  This ranks ahead of France, the UK and Russia.  The Republic of Korea leads the innovation stakes by a clear margin with 9676 applications per 100 billion USD GDP.  Making up the top 10 are Japan (5871), China (4657), Germany (2101), Switzerland (1825), USA (1716), Finland (1715), Denmark (1392), Sweden (1372) and Netherlands (1199).  No data was provided for Australia. 

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For more info and stats, the full datasets can be downloaded here.