Issue 59 | March 14, 2003
WIPO Releases Statistics for 2002
 According to a recent press release from the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"), nearly 115,000 applications were filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 2002. This represents a continuation of the exponential growth in international applications received since 1985 and the twelfth consecutive year that the United States, Germany, and Japan have topped the list of countries using the system:

The top ten PCT applicants in 2002 were (in descending order) Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V., Siemens Aktiengesellschaft, Robert Bosch GmbH, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Sony Corporation, Nokia Corporation, 3M Innovative Properties Company, Bayer Aktiengesellschaft, and The Procter & Gamble Company. The PCT also saw its membership grow in 2002 with the accession of three new states - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles and Nicaragua -- bringing the total number to 118.

WIPO also announced that 22,236 trademarks were registered in 2002 under the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks. The largest number of international applications filed in 2002 came from users in Germany (23.2% of total), France (15.3%), Switzerland (11.2%), and the Benelux (10.9%). The top ten users of the Madrid System in 2002 were Henkel, Philips Electronics, Novartis, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Daimler Chrysler, Siemens, Bayer, Unilever, ITM Enterprises, Biofarma and L'Oréal. Belarus and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia joined the Madrid Protocol in 2002 bringing the total number of countries party to the Madrid Protocol to 56 countries, and the total membership of the Madrid System to 71 countries.

The number of industrial designs for which protection was sought under the Hague System for the International Deposit of Industrial Designs remained steady in 2002 with 20,705 design registrations. The top ten users of the Hague system last year were Swatch, Interior's SA, Sony, Unilever, Daimler Chrysler, Moulinex, Philips Consumer Communications, Hermes, Philips Electronics and Porsche. The Hague system also saw its membership grow to thirty States in 2002 with accession of Ukraine.

The Hague system offers owners of industrial designs a simplified, quick, and inexpensive means of applying for protection of a design in several member countries by submitting a single international application. Although the facilities offered by the Hague Agreement have been used for more than 70 years, the number of member countries has remained low, mainly because certain States (including the U.S.) whose laws provide for an examination of deposited industrial designs as to novelty perceive that the Agreement does not meet their requirements.

The 1999 Geneva Act is intended to address this problem and increase the number of Contracting Parties while still retaining the simplicity and economy of the system. However, the Geneva Act will not enter into force until three months after at least three of the ratifying States achieve a certain level of activity in the field of industrial designs. So far, only seven States have ratified the Geneva Act -- Estonia, Iceland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine -- and only only two of those States meet the required threshold of activity.

The Madrid system gives trademark owners the option of having their mark protected in several countries by simply filing one application with a single Office, in one language, with one set of fees, in one currency. An international registration produces the same effects as an application for registration of the mark made in each of the countries designated by the applicant. If protection is not refused by the trademark Office of a designated country within a specified period of 12 or 18 months, the protection of the mark is the same as if it had been registered by that Office. The Madrid system also makes it is possible to record subsequent changes or to renew the registration through a simple single procedural step with the International Bureau of WIPO.

The PCT system offers inventors and industry an advantageous route for obtaining patent protection internationally. By filing one international patent application under the PCT, protection for an invention can be sought simultaneously in each of a large number of countries. The national patent granting procedure and the related high expenses are postponed by up to 30 months while applicants obtain important information concerning the likelihood of obtaining patent protection as well as potential the commercial interest in an invention.

To discuss this topic further, please contact the author, Bill Heinze, at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley. The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.