25 February 2013Americas

BRICK nations catching up on patents, as Brazil looks to life sciences

In a report published by Thomson Reuters on Wednesday, the BRICK nations were shown to be filing almost as many patents as the G7 nations in 2011.

The report, entitled Building Bricks:  Exploring the Global Research Impact of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea, is based on data drawn from the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, Derwent World Patent Index, and third party data from organisations including the World Bank.

Thomson Reuters’ director of research evaluation Jonathan Adams and former manager of contract research services David Pendlebury authored the paper with IP analyst Bob Stembridge.

The report compares the number of patents filed in the BRICK countries in recent years as well as other metrics including the number of researchers or academic papers published in the country to represent their economic innovation.

It found that in 1992, the G7 nations (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan) filed 6.2 patents for every one filed in the BRICK nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea).

By 2011, the number of patents filed by the BRICK nations had increased six-fold from 106,724 in 1992 to 663,451, taking the ratio down to 1.2 G7 patents for every one patent filed in BRICK nations.

The figures used represent patents filed by all parties, both domestic and foreign, in their respective countries.

China and South Korea were shown to be filing the majority of these patents in recent years, between them accounting for 84 percent of all filings by BRICK countries in 2010.

The data also showed local trends in patent filing behaviour. Brazil was shown to be investing in the life sciences and transport, with India leading the way in pharmaceuticals and organic fine chemistry.

Russia, as well as filing patents related to food chemistry and medical technology, was shown to be investing heavily in nucleonics and explosives.

Avi Freeman, partner at Beck Greener in London, said that the change in Chinese patent law in 2009, which applied a standard of absolute novelty, has made China a more desirable destination for filing patents, and could have been a factor in the dramatic increase of patents filed in the country.

He cited the close relationship between the European and Chinese patent offices as a probable factor for the increase in the number of academic reports published.

Trevor Cook, partner at Bird & Bird in London, said that the figures in the report could paint a misleading picture of the countries’ economic status, as they do not compare the number of international patents filed.

“The figures give a completely misleading impression of the international significance of that technology,” he said.

Do the figures suggest that China is on the way to achieving its goal of becoming a knowledge-based economy by 2020?

“I think that you would require much more granularity in the figures to draw any conclusion as to the nature and importance of the knowledge-based economy to these various countries,” he said.

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