Thursday, 24 January 2013

Is it bigger or is it smaller?

The EPO have announced that they have had a bumper year indicating an "All-time high for activities of the European Patent Office in 2012" and stating that "In 2012, the European Patent Office (EPO) received 258 000 patent applications. This represents a 5.7% increase over 2011 (244 000) and sets a new record."

Leaving aside the point that nearly every year is a new record, these figures demand close attention. However detailed numbers will not be available until mid-March and so I look to 2011 instead.

The EPO also claimed a bumper year in 2011 [see here] so what does a bumper year look like?

The number claimed by the EPO as the number of applications received by them appears to be the sum of Euro-direct and PCT filings, regardless of where filed. A PCT application filed in China or the USA does not appear, to my mind, to represent "activity" by the EPO.

The EPO's activity instead could be considered to comprise the number of Euro-direct applications, plus the number of PCT applications for which the EPO acts as ISA, plus the number of PCT applications reaching the regional phase. These numbers are tabulated below:-

Growth  2010-2011
a) Euro-direct
b) PCT International
c) Of which, the number using EP as ISA
d) Euro-PCT
Total "activity" by EPO [a+c+d]
Total claimed by EPO [a+b]

It is hard to see how a 12.4% decline in Euro-direct filings, near stagnation in Euro-PCT filings, and a 2.4% decline in business overall could be claimed as an increase, but that is what happened in relation to the 2011 figures.

It will be interesting to see how the 2012 figures look when published.

1 comment:

  1. To be fair, if I understand right the EPO do a little work on everything in category B because they generate a database entry for PCTs whilst they are still in the international phase.

    That said, this is almost certainly completely automated and definitely doesn't involve the sort of substantive work which goes into categories A, B, and C.

    A wag may point out that just because the EPO receives something, that doesn't necessarily mean any substantial activity is generated. Wouldn't a count of the number of searches and/or examination reports generated in a year be more meaningful?