Fish Ranked #1 in the United States and #2 Globally in 2010 List of PCT Applications

For the second year, Managing IP is publishing a list of the biggest filers of applications for patents filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty based on details of applications published on WIPO's website. The data is an important benchmark of firms' activity in the patent market, particularly since PCT applications are assuming a bigger role in IP owners' protection strategies. In a report published last month, PCT-administrator WIPO revealed that patent applications under the system had returned to growth after a slump in IP filing activity around the world. The increasing use of the PCT system, which allows applicants to seek patent protection in a large number of countries by filing an international application either with their local patent office, with WIPO's International Bureau in Geneva or with regional patent offices such as the EPO and the African Regional Industrial Property Organisation, suggests growing confidence in the system, particularly from companies based in Asia.

Much of that is due to WIPO's determination to make the system more attractive to users. Director-general Francis Gurry's roadmap for the PCT, now being implemented by former private practice lawyer James Pooley, deputy director-general for patents at the IP organization, has seen member state offices chivvied into attaching more weight to reports prepared by International Authorities (IA) within the PCT system. IAs have also agreed to improve the quality of their PCT reports. The system received an additional boost at the start of the year, with the launch of the PCT-PPH, in which the EPO, USPTO and JPO agreed to fast track PCT applications through their existing patent prosecution highways. Pooley says that this idea is so compelling that it has been adopted by countries outside of the trilateral group. Korea has since agreed with the US to give PPH treatment to PCT applications that have received favourable reports by the other country acting as an IA. "So PPH, previously limited to a very small group of countries, may be emerging as a genuinely multilateral approach to worksharing through the PCT, to the benefit of all applicants," Pooley wrote in Managing IP in July.

If WIPO continues to make the PCT more attractive to users, and Asia's innovators - from Panasonic to Huawei - maintain their enthusiasm for the system, applications filed through the PCT will generate an increasing amount of work for filing firms around the world.

Fish & Richardson was ranked number one in the United States and number two globally for patents filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty.