Requests for international patents reached a record 134,073 last year, with one-third of applications coming from the U.S. and a surge in filings from South Korea and China, the World Intellectual Property Organization said Feb. 3.
The requests for consideration by the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which provides for patents across WIPO's 128 member countries, increased 9% from 2004.
The U.S. represented 33.6% of all requests and stayed on top of the table, WIPO said. Next were Japan, Germany, France and Britain. Applications from South Korean inventors climbed by one-third to 4,747, taking the country into sixth place. Since 2000, applications from the Asian nation have risen by 200%, WIPO noted.
China ranked 10th with 2,452 applications -- a 43.7% increase on 2004. Chinese applications have likewise risen fast since the start of the decade, and last year were up 212% from the 2000 level.
For WIPO deputy director general Francis Gurry, the increase reflects the "rapidly expanding technological strength of these countries." Patents sought by developing countries rose 20% last year and represented 6.7% of the total.
WIPO includes South Korea and China in that category, as well as Singapore. Countries such as India, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico also saw a climb.
Broken down by corporations, the Dutch multinational Philips filed the most patent requests, followed by Matsushita of Japan, Germany's Siemens and Finnish communications giant Nokia.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006