28 December 2005

WIPO Index of Patent Systems

A very useful resource on the WIPO website is the WIPO Index of Patent Systems. While ostensibly "a tool to help users of patent statistics to understand the impact of differences between patent systems on the interpretation of patent statistics," it could be of enormous practical value to business.

The laws of 41 countries are analysed and compared. Sadly, the UK, France, China and India are missing list but the European Patent Office is there as are the USA, Japan, Germany and South Korea and even Monaco and Libya. It should not be forgotten that the countries with the second and third highest rates of growth in PCT applications between 2003 and 2004 were from Korea and Japan respectively surpassed only by the Peoples' Republic of China (see Press Release PR/403/2005 "RECORD NUMBER OF INTERNATIONAL PATENT FILINGS IN 2004" 9 March 2005). In his talk to the UDRP panellists in October 2005, Dr Francis Gurry (who combines his role as head of the Arbitration and Mediation Centre with responsibility for the PCT) observed that if this growth continues, it will not be long before the bulk of the world's technical literature will be in a North Asian language.

Returning to the index, each national analysis consists of a table headed "Features", "Status" and "Changes in the Law Since 1990". The items in the "Features" column include "Types of protection for inventions", "Term of protection", "Subject matters excluded from patentability or not considered to be inventions" and so on.

Information about the UK, however, is available from various sources. For instance, I dug up the "Filing Statistics" for all patents, trade marks and designs for 2001 and 2002 from the Patent Office website which appears to have been last updated on 2 March 2005.

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