The year 2015 followed the pattern of the past six years with an increase in IP protection. China, notably, has continued its growth in patent filings to a point where the patent office received more than one million patent applications in 2015, a record.
High quality innovators
Every year since 2007, Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO release a joint annual report on the Global Innovation Index (GII), which is based on data from over thirty sources covering a large spectrum of innovation drivers and results, aiming to capture the multi-dimensional facets of innovation. In the 2016 Global Innovation Index, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, the US, Finland and Singapore lead the ranking. The Netherlands and Luxembourg are still among the top 10 innovators, despite descending five and three places respectively compared to the 2015 index. The GII also ranks economies on innovation quality. For this, the authors of the index take into account the involvement of a country’s universities in innovation, the number of scientific publications it has and the international patent filings it makes. Japan, the US, the UK, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea appear as the leading countries, although the UK and Japan decreased patent filings in 2015. South Korea registered the highest number of applications by GDP, a position it has maintained since 2004.
China has made history, making it into the top 25 on innovation quality, a ranking which has historically been dominated by highly developed economies. The Middle Kingdom has played a key role in recent years helping balance the distribution of innovation between high-income countries – defined as a country which has a gross national income (GNI) per capita above $12,475 – and middle-income ones. In 2005 high-income countries represented 80% of global applications whereas middle - income economies only 16.5%. By 2015 the innovation environment had become more balanced, with high - income countries accounting for only 53.5% of global patent applications. Nevertheless, the leading companies on the list are all still from developed economies, the top four being Panasonic, Canon, Toyota Jidosha, and Samsung Electronics.
Globalized protection for a global economy
According to WIPO, the ratio of patent applications to patent families has remained stable for the last 10 years at around a 50% for first patent filings and 50% for extended applications. The 2016 GII on patent families led in at least two of offices ranks countries on a rate of first application to extended file basis. Asian countries top the ranking: Japan is in the first place with a 1.0 ratio of the national patent to extended patent, followed by South Korea with 0.99. Finland with 0.98, Sweden with 0.97 and Switzerland with 0.96 round out the top ve. The US continues to be the biggest user of the PCT system according to WIPO, with 56,595 international applications lodged in 2016, followed by Japan with 45,239 and China with 43,168.