28 February 2024

LG Again Tops Australian Patent Filings in 2023, as Most of the ‘Usual Suspects’ Return

Winners' podium Over the past five years (i.e. since 2019) Korea’s LG Electronics Inc and China’s Huawei Technologies Ltd have consistently placed in the top five applicants for Australian patents.  Indeed, for the past four years they were in the leading three.  In 2021, Huawei came out on top with LG a close second.  In 2022, LG took top place, with IBM appearing from nowhere to push Huawei back into third.  And in 2023, LG has once again grabbed the top spot, with Huawei not too far behind, and IBM easing up on its Australian filing frenzy to slip back into equal 14th position with a ‘mere’ 100 applications.

Notwithstanding Asian companies holding the top two positions, US applicants dominated to top 30 filers, taking up 20 spots including six of the top 10.  This is no great surprise.  As the numbers in my previous article show, US residents filed 44% of all Australian patent applications in 2023, despite a 6% decline in US-originating filings.  While some applicants moved up or down the rankings, the overall make-up of the top 30 was similar to the previous year, with only eight exits/entries among the lower positions.  Furthermore, a number of the applicants entering the table are not unfamiliar names, having appeared previously before dropping out temporarily.

Once again, the leading Australian-based applicant was Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd with 73 applications, followed by the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) with 54 applications – both slightly up on the previous year’s numbers.  Yet again the top New Zealand applicant was Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Ltd which, with 107 applications, comfortably out-filed the leading Australians.

Read on for a look at the numbers in more detail.

22 February 2024

Patent Filings in Australia Fell Again in 2023, but Applications from China are Bucking the Trend

2023 falling. Image generated by Google Gemini.In 2023 the total number of standard patent applications filed in Australia remained above 30,000 for the third year running, despite a 2.4% drop in filings.  This follows a decline of nearly 0.5% in the previous year.  However, whereas the decline in new applications in 2022 was due to fewer filings by Australian residents (with a slight increase in foreign-originating applications preventing a larger fall), the drop in 2023 was the result of nearly 800 fewer filings by foreign applicants.  As always, a majority of new filings were national phase entries (NPEs) derived from international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).  But, for the first time since 2016, the number of PCT NPEs fell – by 3.2% – offset somewhat by a 14% rise in new direct national filings.  The number of divisional applications also fell in 2023, by 7.3%.

In some (very limited) good news for Australia, patent filings by domestic residents increased by 2.6%, while the number of provisional applications increased by 5%.  Unfortunately, however, two thirds of the additional provisional applications in 2023 were filed without the professional assistance of a patent attorney.  (I say ‘unfortunately’ because, as I have shown previously, the outcomes for self-represented applicants are generally abysmal, so for the most part they are wasting their time and what little money they are expending on fees to IP Australia.)

The top 10 countries of origin of applications filed in 2023 were the United States, Australia, China, Japan, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, France and Canada.  There were substantial drops in the numbers of applications filed by applicants from the US (-6.0%), South Korea (-10.5%) and Canada (-14%).  The largest growths in filings were from China (12.1%) and Japan (5.2%).  China is once again snapping at the heels of Australia from second position on the league table.  This happened previously in 2020, when I (mistakenly) predicted that Chinese filings might surpass domestic filings as early as 2021.  But while it is taking longer than appeared likely a few years ago, it seems inevitable that Australians will soon fall behind Chinese applicants as users of the Australian patent system.

Given that the innovation patent system is being phased out, it should come as no surprise that just 106 innovation patent applications were filed in 2023 (down from 191 in 2022), all of which were necessarily derived from existing applications filed prior to 26 August 2021.  Around two-thirds of applicants still filing for innovation patents are Australian (120 in 2022 and 67 in 2023).  Furthermore, a larger proportion of innovation patents are now being certified and made enforceable than has historically been the case, with 75 of those filed in 2022, and 31 of those filed in 2023, so far having been certified.  But with innovation patents now being a small, and shrinking, part of the Australian patent system, I shall have nothing more to say about them in this article, and I will drop the distinguishing term ‘standard’ when talking about ‘regular’ patent applications.

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The Patentology Blog by Dr Mark A Summerfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.