6th feb, 2011

Wipo survey reveal strategic points for patents

WIPO did a survey in 2010 for understanding “how users of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system responded to the difficult economic conditions in 2009 and how they may respond to the incipient economic recovery in 2010.” There are several interesting points in the survey ( WIPO Survey on Patenting Strategies in 2009 and 2010).

The first point is that companies (204 in all across the world) expect their R&D investments (or casts) to rise in 2010, which is good news and the harbinger of future growth.

Overall companies expect increased patenting in 2010 compared to 2009. These expectations are mainly driven by companies from EU and Asia (Japan-Korea) who expects an increase in international filings. Companies from the US expect an increase in domestic applications, and a decline in international. So while EU and Japan based companies seek the global markets the US companies focus on their home market. The result of this is of course that the US companies will be weakened in international competition but will strengthen their position at home. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. The advantage being that it could be the way out of the crisis the disadvantage is that when on the other side of the crisis their international potential for growth is less than their international competitors.
An interesting point is also that the reason for declining patent spending in companies from the US and EU is general budget cuts. In Japan and Korea the reason is evaluation of potential return of investments. In my opinion the latter reason is the wiser one. A simple budget cut effecting patenting costs in general will indiscriminately have an effect on all your IP. Instead an evaluation of the potential returns will focus on how your money is spent rather than how many. This could signal that Asian companies are focusing their IP strategies based on economic indicators and KPI´s which is very wise.
The survey also have some interesting sector insights. The increased patenting is mainly dominated by Pharma, Biotech and chemicals with IT staying at the same level as 2009. Here it is Bio and pharma which cite evaluation of likely returns as the reason for the increase. This is not surprising since bio and pharma companies are among the most professional users of the IP system and focus on strategy. IT is a somewhat immature sector when it comes to strategic use of IP and they cite budget costs as a reason for their cautious approach.
All in all interesting results from the survey. It might be because I love to talk strategy, but I think the survey shows some good points when it comes to the strategic approach to IP.

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