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Patent Applications Soar in North East Asia


A new report finds North East Asia is fast becoming the most innovative region in the world. The World Intellectual Property Organization says there has been an explosion of patent filings from countries in the region. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva.

The report shows worldwide filings of patent applications grew at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent in 2005, with the highest growth rates in North East Asia, particularly the South Korea and China.

By the end of 2005, it says about 5.6 million patents were in force worldwide. Topping the patent filing league are Japan, the United States, China, the Republic of Korea and the European Patent Office. The report says these five offices account for more than three quarters of all patents filed in 2005.

World Intellectual Property Organization Deputy Director-General, Francis Gurry, says China increased its patent filings by almost 33 percent over 2004, bumping it into third place in the rankings.

"Resident filings in China, so filings by Chinese in China increased over the 10 years to 2005 by 834 percent," said Gurry. "That is a massive increase. And, in the Republic of Korea, they increased by 100 percent, 106 percent."

Gurry says the increase in patent filings reflects the country's commitment to becoming a hub of innovation. Another interesting finding, he says, is that the rise in resident filings is mirrored by non-resident applications. That is applications by individuals who request patents in foreign countries. This, he says, shows greater international commercial interest in foreign technology, as well as increasing international competition in innovation.

"The geographical coverage sought by patent applicants is increasing," said Gurry. "It is a measure of globalization. And, North East Asia has really become a major force technologically. We know that for Japan for quite some time. But, we are seeing continued explosive growth on the part of the Republic of Korea and China."

While North East Asia continues on its dynamic path, Gurry tells VOA the United States remains the world's technological powerhouse.

"It files internationally many more applications than any other country," said Gurry. "So, internationally it is filing 34 percent of all international applications. The next in line is Japan, which is about 18.8 percent of all international applications. So, it is a long way out in front."

Patent trends around the world show an increase in filings in the electricity and electronics sector. The WIPO report finds the three fastest growing technical fields are medical, audio-visual and information technology.

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