Sunday, 13 April 2014

On the importance of good data

Having an idle moment I thought to look to the WIPO IP Statistics Data Center where all sorts of fun can be had by the avid nerd. The data centre enables one not only to look to individual countries, but also to regions.

In previous posts I have commented on stagnation in filings at the EPO and so naturally, in a totally non-scientific way, I looked for more data to support my previous "findings" but for Europe at large.

By producing a time series of patent filings classified by resident and non-resident; and comparing this with a time series of patent filings classified by resident and filings abroad; the following interesting graph resulted:-

This would indicate:

  • North America having relatively static demand for patents in the rest of the world in recent years, but becoming an ever greater recipient of filings from the rest of the world; 
  • Asia showing ever greater activity abroad, and being an ever greater recipient from the rest of the world;
  • Europe showing ever greater activity abroad, but with relatively stagnant demand from abroad; and
  • Africa, Latin America and Oceania having relatively low activity.

But something more was needed. What is the situation of the whole World?

Unfortunately, there are no figures for patent filings outside the World, but one can get figures for filings in the World divided by residents and non-residents. The numbers are as indicated below.

So what does this mean for off-World interest in the World economy? The following shows the percent of patent applications filed by non-residents of the World.

From the above two graphs it can be seen that 2008 marked a distinct drop in activity by residents and non-residents alike. The World economic crisis clearly influenced alien demand for patents. However it can be seen that although alien demand has recovered somewhat, domestic demand has increased dramatically. It is to be hoped that the World is not becoming an economic backwater, but at present it seems that the 2008 economic crisis was just a minor "blip" and the increase in domestic filings indicates strong growth in domestic innovation.

It can also be seen that there is a need for improved statistics from WIPO. In particular cooperation with the GIPO [Galaxy Intellectual Property Office] should be improved to enable data for off-World patent filings to be gathered.

In the mean time, it would help for WIPO to be clearer as to how they calculate resident and non-resident filings for regions so that users of the IP Statistics Data Center are not led to false conclusions.

By the way - my apologies that this is too late for 1st April.