A Year in Review by Country
The Year in Numbers
According to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2023 report recently published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), global patent filings rose by 1.7% in 2022 to 3.45 million. This is a second consecutive annual record and is driven by innovation in China, the United States, Japan, and Europe, but also in other countries like India.
Chinese applicants led the way with 1.58 million patent filings, which is up 3.1% from 2021 and represents about 47% of all patent applications globally. United States applicants were in second place with 505,539 patent filings, up by 1.1%. This was followed by Japanese applicants with 405,361, Korean applicants with 272,315 and German applicants with 193,610 patent filings.
While applicants from Korea increased their global patent filings by 1.9% in 2022, applicants from both Japan and Germany filed less, with a decrease of 1.6% and 3.8%, respectively. Patent filings by Indian applicants, on the other hand, jumped a massive 31.6% to 55,718, moving the country from ninth to seventh position (behind France) as it overtook the UK.
As far as filing statistics are concerned, in 2022–23 Australia saw a 1.3% increase in applications for plant breeder’s rights, while the patent application numbers remained steady.
Design and trademark applications, however, fell by 3.6% and 11.2%, respectively. These declines in design and trademark applications may simply be a correction from the growth experienced during the pandemic, but the declines may also reflect the increasing living costs and higher interest rates.
IP Australia is currently reviewing its fee schedule and increases are expected in 2024 in light of the inflationary forces experienced in the Australian economy over the last few years.
As of 1 January 2024, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) will increase most of its fees by about 30 percent. More information and the exact fee amounts can be found here.
The Statistical Analysis Report on Global Green and Low Carbon Technology Patents (2023) recently issued by the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), contains a considerable amount of data to support the proposition that China is a key player in global ‘green’ and ‘low carbon’ technology innovation. Amongst the world’s top 50 companies or institutions for numbers of patents granted for green and low-carbon technology inventions, China had 13 entries, second only to Japan with 15 entries.
Since 1 June 2023, it is now possible to have a single patent granted in Europe (as a Unitary Patent) that covers 17 EU countries, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, and Sweden. The Unitary Patent can be enforced for all 17 countries in a single proceeding before Europe’s new Unified Patent Court.
Prior to 1 June 2023, European patents granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) were exclusively available as collections of national patents that could only be enforced on a country-by-country basis.
A new IP tax incentive is scheduled to be codified in Hong Kong by the first half of 2024. It proposes that eligible IP income derived from the exhibition or use of an eligible IP asset, such as patents, copyrighted software, and plant-variety rights, be taxed in Hong Kong at a concessionary tax rate.
The eligible IP assets are required to be both legally protected and subject to approval and registration processes, where such processes are relevant. In particular, patents and plant-variety rights will need to be registered in Hong Kong after a 24-month transitional period.
The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has improved its processing of new PCT applications filed from 30 October 2023. The International Application Number and the International Filing Date will now be confirmed for Applicants more quickly.
For new PCT applications that include one or more formal deficiencies, the Applicant will be invited to resolve those issues before an International Filing Date is provided.
A recent study by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan has shown that research and development investment by Taiwanese entities increased in the period from 2012 to 2021 to an all-time high of NTD 820.6bn (USD 26bn) in 2021. Manufacturers of computers and other electronics, including semiconductors and optical products made up about 78% of Taiwan’s total R&D expenditure in 2021, with spending jumping by 19% from 2020 to 2021. As a proportion of GDP, Taiwan’s R&D spending in 2021 was 3.8%, making it the third-largest R&D spender among the world’s major economies, surpassing 3.5% in the US, 3.3% in Japan, and 3.1% in Germany. In 2021, Israel was the first, with R&D investment at 5.7% of GDP, and South Korea was second, with R&D investment at 4.6% of GDP.
United States of America
Defendants in patent infringement cases filed in the United States for the patents that are directed to abstract ideas now often move to dismiss such cases under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 on patent ineligibility grounds (so-called ‘Alice’ motions, named after the case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International).
A recent decision from the Federal Circuit (Hawk Technology Systems, LLC v. Castle Retail, LLC) shows that ‘Alice’ motions can provide an effective way of resolving US patent litigation in its early stages without significant litigation time and expense for these kinds of patents.
Our team is available to answer any questions you may have regarding the developments discussed in this publication.