In its latest report, based on the most recent available figures from 2006, WIPO said today that the number of patents granted worldwide had grown by 18 per cent in one year to 727,000. The UN agency added that the total number of patents in force was some 6.1 million. “A major increase in innovative activity in China, the Republic of Korea and the United States has driven the overall growth of patent filings in 2006. This reflects a consolidation of earlier trends which demonstrate a marked shift in innovation hubs around the world,” the Director General of WIPO, Kamil Idris, said.“While use of the patent system remains highly concentrated among a group of countries, statistics show an increasing level of patent activity in emerging countries. This is an encouraging trend,” Dr. Idris added. The statistics also indicate a growing tendency for applicants to file in multiple countries, through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an agreement administered by WIPO which provides a simplified method for international patent filing. More than 158,000 patent filings were made through the PCT in 2006, an increase of about 6 per cent over the previous year.Applicants from Japan (514,047 applications), the USA (390,815), the Republic of Korea (172,709), Germany (130,806) and China (128,850) accounted for 76 per cent of the total number of patent applications filed worldwide in 2006.WIPO said that patenting activity in emerging countries also increased in 2006, with India receiving 24,505 filings, Brazil 24,505 and Mexico 15,505. The UN agency said that the volume of patent filings was highly correlated with a country’s level of investment in research and development.Citing figures from 2005, WIPO said that the most intense patenting activity was evident in the following sectors: computer technology (144,594), telecommunications (116,770), and electrical machinery (121,350). Between 2001 and 2005, patent filings in computer technology, optics, and semiconductors all grew by about 5 per cent. There was a modest increase in pharmaceuticals filings and a decrease in biotechnology filings.Recent pressures on energy resources have boosted patenting activity in the energy sector, in particular in relation to solar energy, fuel cells and wind energy. Applicants from Japan accounted for the largest number of applications in the fields of solar energy and fuel cells, while Germany joined Japan as one of the top two countries of origin for wind energy technologies. 31 July 2008Increased patent applications in China and the Republic of Korea, as well as in the United States, have pushed the total number of filings to 1.76 million, according to a new report from the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).