2018 Annual Statistics Report by the Japan Patent Office

By: Mutsumi Fukuoka


On July 30, 2018, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) released its “2018 Annual Report” (in Japanese only). The 2018 Annual Report provides a comprehensive compilation of statistics on intellectual property (IP).  In this article, we will update our newsletter of July 2017 by highlighting some of the important features of patent statistics from the JPO Annual Report 2018.

PCT International Applications Continue to Increase

While the number of the patent applications in Japan has remained substantially unchanged since 2015, the number of PCT international applications continues to increase as shown in FIG. 1-1-2 (reproduced from the JPO Annual Report 2018).

This trend may indicate that globalization is advancing with respect to research & development within companies, and further illustrates the increasing importance of IP strategies abroad.

Patent Registration Rate Continues to Increase

As shown in FIG. 1-1-6 (reproduced from the JPO Annual Report 2018), while the number of the patent applications in 2003-2017 decreased gradually in Japan, the number of examination requests has remained substantially unchanged.  Also, when comparing patent registrations to patent applications, the patent registration rate continues to increase.

This trend may indicate that the importance of IP strategy in companies is shifting from patent quantity to patent quality.

China Earned Second Place in Number of PCT International Applications Filed

As shown in FIG. 1-1-14 (reproduced from the JPO Annual Report 2018), in 2017, the number of PCT international applications from China recorded a 13.4% increase over the previous year, exceeding the number of PCT international applications from Japan and earning second place. The United States is still number one in terms of number of PCT international applications filed in 2017.

Patent Applications in Japan from China Increase

As shown in FIG. 1-1-32 (reproduced from the JPO Annual Report 2018), in Japan, the number of patent applications from China has increased in recent years. Specifically, the total number of patent applications reached 4,172 cases in 2017, which is an increase by 9.5% from the previous year.  However, applications from China only account for 7.2% of the total, which is still small compared to the number of applications originating from Europe, the United States, and Korea.

Summary

The 2018 Annual Report shows that globalization is progressing for patent strategies in Japan, and that patent quality is becoming more important than the size of a patent portfolio. Also, while the majority of applications in Japan are from the United States and Europe, applications from China continue to increase.