Foreword

One of the great things about covering the IP ecosystem is watching canny strategists devise new and creative ways of monetising and building businesses around patent rights – legal instruments that have been around in the same basic form for hundreds of years. Yet none of this innovation would be possible without the five mammoth institutions that sit at the heart of the global patent system.

This special report reveals the findings of our latest survey, taking the temperature of the IP community when it comes to the quality, value and service on offer at each of the IP5 – the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is a truly comprehensive picture, which reflects our readership – Europe, Asia and the Americas each accounted for more than 30% of the respondent base.

Some might think that focusing on the IP5 gives short shrift to other important patent-granting institutions around the world.

To address this, we asked the hundreds of IAM readers who took part in this year’s edition of our patent office benchmarking survey to tell us about other examining organisations that are central to their IP strategy, and it is clear that patent filing does not end with the big five. Many flagged Germany’s Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) and the UK Intellectual Property Office as critical venues, while India garnered numerous mentions as an important jurisdiction.

However, the aggregate filing numbers from WIPO’s latest World Intellectual Property Indicators report tell a powerful story. The IP5 received nearly 2.8 million patent applications in 2020, hoovering up 85% of all filings globally. The smallest of the big five – the EPO – recorded around three times the activity of the next closest office, the DPMA.

As well as digging deep into the results of our survey, we also present exclusive data on topics including patent rejections at the USPTO, oppositions at the EPO and invalidations at the CNIPA.

Later in the report practitioners explain the best ways to take advantage of the latest trends in US and Chinese patent office practice, while exclusive interviews and news coverage provide insight into how leaders at the USPTO, KIPO and JPO have handled key challenges of the past year.

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