Almost five years after the height of the financial crisis in 2009, industries are finally starting to bounce back and begin to prosper again. In the legal industry, some markets are seeing faster growth than before the crisis even hit. This past year, intellectual property (IP) filings experienced the strongest increase in 18 years, recording a best-ever growth rate for 2012 global patent filings.

According to the latest World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) report, patent filings grew by 9.2 percent, or 2.35 million applications filed in 2012. Utility model (UM) filings increased by 23.4 percent, while industrial design filings increased by 17 percent and trademark filings by 6.0 percent.

Aside from making headlines for record growth, for the first time, residents of China accounted for the largest number of patents filed throughout the world. In addition, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China accounted for the largest number of applications received by any single IP office, according to a recent IP News report. Among the top 20 IP offices, SIPO saw the fastest growth in filings in 2012, followed by the offices in New Zealand, Mexico, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Russian Federation.

China also tops this year’s ranking for both the source and the destination for the four types of IP. Of the top five IP offices worldwide, SIPO was the only establishment to record double-digit growth for each of the four types of IP.

Aside from the high statistics in growth rate and region, one intriguing aspect of this year’s report is that patent filings actually show trends of field of technology differing across origins. For example, IP News notes that residents of Israel and the U.S. filed a high share of their applications in the computer and medical technologies fields, while residents of Belgium, India and Switzerland were more concentrated in the organic fine chemistry field. Residents of Brazil filed a high share of applications in basic materials chemistry, and China and the Russian Federation focused their filings on material metallurgy technologies. A higher share of applications filed by residents of Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea fell within the field of semiconductors and European countries such as France, Germany and Sweden focused their filings on transport-related technologies.

Overall, a total of 8.66 million patents were processed in 2012 across 82 IP offices worldwide. The USPTO continues to be the IP office with the largest number of patents in force at 2.24 million, followed by the Japanese Patent Office (1.7 million) and SIPO (0.9 million).


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