15 February 2008

Fiddling? Australian-sourced International Patent Applications Down in 2006

It was with some concern that I read the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) review of 2006. It can be viewed here.

For us practitioners, it is financially heartening to see the ongoing growth in the number of PCT applications being filed every year throughout the world. The reason is that each International Patent Application can eventually be converted into an Australian patent application.

However, for innovative Australian companies, the view is not that rosy.

Indeed, as can be seen on page 3 of the review, our growth was a dismal minus 0.3% in 2006. That's in stark contrast to Korea with plus 26.6% and China with plus 56.5%.

When a company files an International Patent Application, it has the option, some 18 months later, to extend the application to any member of the PCT. This is already happening and is noticeable in my practice. So, by not keeping up, Australian companies are losing out on the option to carve out a piece of Intellectual Property real estate in their own country.

According to a recent review released by the government, it is committed to building a strong national innovation system. I can only hope that commitment extends to rejuvenating an interest in patent applications. We are great importers of manufactured goods from countries like Korea and China with ore being perhaps our only significant export.

Locally-sourced foreign patent applications are an excellent way of exporting our valuable assets without damage to the environment.

Let's not fiddle while our Intellectual Property resources are wasted.