Applicants trying to protect an invention in more than one country file a national or regional patent application with their national or regional patent office. Within 12 months of the filing date of the application, they file an international application under the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT) beginning the international phase. As the application is valid in all contracting states, applicants can postpone the payment of substantial fees and costs, such as the translation of the application into national languages.
- In 2015 PCT applications grew by 1.7% to 218,000 PCT applications filed, the fifth consecutive year of growth.
- Applicants from the US accounted for the largest number of PCT applications (57,385).
- Filings in North America decreased by 6.7% probably explained by the large number of filings in 2014 on account of changes in the US patent system.
- Asia had the sharpest growth in filings (+9%). China (+16.8%), Republic of Korea (+11.5%) and Japan (+4.4%).
- Filings in Europe remained stable (+0.03%).
- The top five applicants were largely unchanged from 2014. Huawei Technologies (China) remained the top PCT applicant (3,898 applications), Qualcomm Incorporated (US ) was second (2,442 applications) and ZTE (China) was third (2,155 applications).
- Computer technology remained the field of technology with the most applications (16,385) for the second consecutive year followed by digital communication (16,047) and electrical machinery (14,612).