The worldwide economic crisis appears to be having an impact on international patent filings. This week the WIPO announced that the number of international patent application filings in 2008 increased by 2.4 percent, a big drop from the 9.3 percent average pver the past several years. However, the number of applications filed was 164,000, an all-time high. The countries with the largest increases were Korea (12%) , China (11.9%) and Sweden (12.5%). The U.S. experienced a 1 percent drop. Australia, Italy, Netherlands, UK also experienced declines. Canada had a very respectable 4.2% increase.
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And is it true that the US and other countries keep patent applications “secret” until 18 months after the file date? I always thought the 18 month delay in publishing(at least in terms of the US) was caused by the slow patent examination process.
Jim – Yes, almost all countries publish patent applications 18 months after the earliest priority filing date. The US was a bit of a latecomer; it only started publishing applications in 2001. Prior to that US applications were not published and were not made public until a patent had issued. The speed of the examination process has no bearing on this, expect in cases when a patent issues before the 18-month mark. (It wouldn’t make sense to publish an application *after* a patent had issued.)