9 February 2011Strong growth from China, the Republic of Korea and Japan has helped to boost the number of patent applications filed worldwide last year, following the drop witnessed in 2009, the United Nations agency tasked with promoting the protection of intellectual property said today. Patents filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an agreement administered by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that provides a simplified method for international patent filing, increased by 4.8 per cent in 2010. Provisional data shows that 162,900 international patent applications were filed last year, as compared to the 155,398 filed in 2009, WIPO stated in a news release.“Overall PCT filings recovered from the economic crisis-induced drop in 2009, almost reaching their 2008 level,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “The fast growth rates from East Asia reflect acceleration in the geographic diversification of innovative activities. 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,” he stated.The agency also noted that, despite the 1.7 per cent fall in patents filed by the United States in 2010, the country remains the largest user of the PCT system with 44,855 international applications filed, followed by Japan (32,156) and Germany (17,171). The Panasonic Corporation from Japan kept the top spot in the list of PCT applications published in 2010 (2,154), followed by Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corporation (1,863), and Qualcomm Incorporated from the US (1,677). The University of California accounted for the largest number of applications published in the category of academic institutions (306). The top four university PCT users are from the US (University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas and University of Florida). The fastest growth in published applications was in the digital communication field, with an increase of 17.3 per cent in 2010 over the previous year, while almost every other field of technology experienced declines or modest growth. The sharpest decline in patenting was seen in the field of telecommunications, the agency added.