This got us to wondering – how would the corresponding statistics for Australian patent grants compare?
TOP PATENTEES IN AUSTRALIA, 2010We arranged for some research to be conducted, and the results for the top 10 patent recipients are set out in the table below, side-by-side with their US equivalents from IFI CLAIMS’ data. Our congratulations to Microsoft, for heading the Australian list, while also holding down a respectable third spot in the US!
United States of America
IGT Reno NEV
PROFILE OF TOP AUSTRALIAN AND US PATENTEESThe data shows minimal overlap between the top patent recipients in the United States and Australia. Only two of the US top ten – Microsoft and LG Electronics – make it into the corresponding Australian list, and only two further members of the Australian top 10 – Qualcomm and Silverbrook Research – even make the US top 50. Silverbrook, incidentally, is the sole Australian company to appear in both lists (at no. 34 in the US, and no. 10 in Australia), and also the only Australian company in the US top 50.
The US top 10 is comprised entirely of information and communications technology (ICT) companies based in the US, South Korea and Japan. The Australian top 10 is a more eclectic mix of ICT (Microsoft, LG, Silverbrook and Qualcomm), pharmaceutical/healthcare (Novartis), petrochemical/energy (Shell), chemical (BASF), engineering/chemical (Daikin), and gaming (IGT and Aristocrat). Every member of the US top 10 is a household name, whereas many people would be less familiar with companies on the Australian list, such as Qualcomm, Novartis, IGT, Aristocrat and Silverbrook.
While IBM derives substantial income from licensing of its patent portfolio, this remains a relatively small part of the company’s total annual revenue, and does not appear to be based on a global patenting strategy. IBM was awarded a grand total of only 20 Australian patents in 2010.
WIPO APPLICATIONS DATA AND FUTURE PREDICTIONSUS, Japanese and Korean companies dominated patent grants in Australia and the United States in 2010. However, the recently released 2010 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filing data from WIPO may provide an indication of things to come, since current international application filings are likely to be generally predictive of national patent grants over the coming years. The top 15 countries, in respect of international applications filed in 2010, are listed in the table below.
Percent of Total
United States of America
Republic of Korea
While the current leaders in patent grants remain in the top five filers of international applications, only four countries in the top 15 have demonstrated any growth in PCT filings in 2010 compared with 2009. Of these, the growth from Japan and Germany is modest compared with Korea (20.5%) and China (56.2%). Indeed, two of the top four PCT applicants in 2010 were Chinese – ZTE Corporation at number two, with 1863 applications (more than the entire country of Australia), and Huawei Technologies at number four, with 1528 applications.
There are serious questions as to whether China’s filing performance reflects genuine innovation, or is more simply the result of government incentives (see, e.g., article ‘Patents, yes; ideas, maybe’ at The Economist). We imagine that there are elements of both, but in time it seems inevitable that China, and Chinese companies, will dominate the global patent system.
Acknowledgement: our thanks to the Information Services team at Watermark – Intellectual Asset Management for providing Australian patent grant data.