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Bio Technology : October 2009
32 Australasian BioTechnology Volume 19 • Number 3 • October 2009 AusBioFEATURE ~ Australian patent filing data is skewed pre--2004 when Patent Office practice was to allocate all PCT applications an Australian application number and filing date and 'lapse' the case if no Australian national phase entry followed; post 2004 only those PCT applications that enter the Australian national phase receive Australian application number and filing date. * 2008 forecast based on patent filing statistics available at the time of printing in 2006 Japan had the highest proportion of resident patent filings, followed by the USi. Japan may be recoiling from the aggressive patenting culture of the 1990s, showing a plateau in the total number of patent applications filed from 2000 to 2005 followed by a sharp decline from 2006. This is explained partly by fewer Japanese applicants filing locally (WIPO reports a 5.7% drop in resident patent filings in Japan in 2006 i) which is in line with a contraction in the Japanese economy around that timev. Foreign applicants also consider the cost of obtaining patent protection in Japan to be expensive. This, combined with cultural and legal bars to market entry, is impacting IP protection strategies, diminishing Japan as a country of interest. Statistics indicative of patent filing activity in Japan for medical-technology-related inventions tell a similar story. In stark contrast, patent filing activity in China has increased considerably from 2000 levels, intensifying in 2007 in line with economic growth. There have been corresponding increases in patent filings relating to medical technology over the same period. Available data suggest that a further increase in total patent filings and medical-technology-related applications can be expected when data is finalised for 2008. Overall, the number of patent filings in China having a Chinese priority claim has also increased (both generally, and for medical-technology-related applications) which points to China as a source of growing innovation and not merely a manufacturing territory. However, in 2009 China remains on the Unites States Trade Representative (USTR) Priority Watch List which cites China's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement regime as "largely ineffective and non-deterrent". Foreign applicants are not entirely disheartened by this indictment and increas- ingly are seeking patent protection in China anticipating improvements in IPR protection and enforcement regimes. India also appears on the Priority Watch List in 2009 due to weaknesses in IPR enforcement, although changes to enforcement rules and improvements in infrastructure supporting the IPR framework are encouraging. These improvements have not been sufficient, however, to give rise to large increases in patenting activity; although the total number of patent applications filed in 2007 was triple that of 2000, patenting activity is now declining. A relatively high and stable proportion of patent applications filed in India relate to medical technology (around 24%) while the propor- tion of filings having Indian priority is very small. This could indicate a preference for Indian residents to obtaining foreign (e.g. United States) priority although a more likely cause is limited patenting activity among Indian residents. Patent filing data from Korea shows a steady increase in total filings from 2003 to 2006 prior to which filing numbers plateaued. Filing data from 2007 shows a decline in Korean patent filings and available data is suggestive of sharper drop in patenting activity for 2008. Medical-technology- related patent applications have undergone a corresponding decrease. Similar patent filing trends are observable in Eu- rope, Brazil and Russia, where 10--20% of patent applications filed over the period studied relate to medical technology. Medical technology continues to grow as an area of concentrated patenting activity despite widespread report- ing that medical technology companies are encountering difficulty raising funds and making dealsi. The number of patent applications filed in Australia is declining generally as is the net flow of medical-technology-related applications into Australia suggesting that foreign applicants rate patent protection in Australia a low priority. This could create opportunities for Australian medical innovators, manufac- turers and consumers whose onshore activities may now be less constrained by foreign owned intellectual property rights. i World Intellectual Property Organization World Patent Report -- A Statistical Review 2008 ii 2008 patent filing data does not yet include national phase applications from PCT applications having no priority claim iii Applications filed with IPC classifications: A61B or A61C or A61D or A61F or A61G or A61H or A61J or A61L or A61M or A61M or A61N or A61P or A61N or A61P iv IP Australia Growth Data since 2000 v According to World Bank GDP growth indicators