The World Intellectual Property Office (or WIPO) is the UN body based in Geneva in Switzerland that administers Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications. 142 countries are signed up to the PCT which makes it possible to make a central filing. This avoids the needs to file in each country.
The World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO, received about 155,900 international patent filings last year, a drop of 4.5 percent compared with the nearly 164,000 filings received a year earlier. WIPO is the only United Nations agency whose income comes largely from services it provides to private industry, rather than contributions paid by member states.
Although many are of the opinion that China and some other Asian countries do not regard the intellectual property / patent system with any other than disregard, Asian inventors increased their number of filings. This increase was in share and overall registrations, with Japan filing 29,827, South Koreans 8,066 applications, and China 7,946 filings. This is an increase of almost 30 percent year-on-year.
The most applications filed in 2009 were for computer technology, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment with the field of computer chip design and nanotechnology seeing the greatest rise.
Inventors in the United States registered the highest number of PCT applications – 45,790, almost a third of the total but were down 11 percent compared with 2008. Germany dropped by a similar amount to 16,736 but remain third.
These figures are an important signal about the state of the economy; it is said that patent filings tend to weather financial storms as people will always be looking to come up with the better boat. However to see a drop like this is an indicator perhaps of the uncertainty in the markets.