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Monday, May 21, 2012

South East Asia's global patent filings are too low


IP Komodo has expressed concern before here at the weaknesses in SE Asian countries of innovation and the consequent lack of international patent applications filed by inventors from this region. The latest EPO data confirms the trend. This is data on nationality of inventor so in some cases there may be expatriate inventors included in here inflating the numbers.

Nationality
2011 EPs filed
Singapore
305
Malaysia
79
Thailand
7
Indonesia
5
Brunei
4
Philippines
3
Vietnam
0

This is consistent with the US data; however the US data shows larger volumes because the first preference is always a filing in the US for most Asian inventors and businesses.  

Asian companies simply don’t register and use enough IP. Another clear statistic is that from the 800,000 Philippines businesses registered (which isn’t all of them for sure), there are only 85,000 domestic trademarks registered (1 brand for every 10 businesses!). With the exception of Singapore and possibly Malaysia, one can say with some confidence that other ASEAN countries will be left behind, squeezed out of knowledge economy, unless some radical changes are made.  Indonesia's Vice President Boediono is quoted in the news this week as lamenting that Indoensia has the fewest patents of any G20 country.

So what do ASEAN governments do to encourage innovation and IP creation?

Few of the ASEAN countries give sufficent grants to inventors to file patents. Thailand has set up a Creative Economy Fund which under some conditions allows grants to create IPRs.

IP strategies for research and development (R&D) institutions in the country – e.g. the Philippines government has just started a project for the provision of patent data to R&D institutions.  But there is not enough VC financing for university spin out businesses for example.

Awards and competitions – the 2012 Vietnam Good Design Mark Awards recognized 44 local brands and the Vietnam Fund for Supporting Technological Creations (VIFOTEC) Awards for new technical innovations. But this just demonstrates how few there really are.

So it is far too too little; vastly more is needed to make the microscopic ASEAN global patent filings meaningful, and prevent ASEAN companies being excluded from important future industries.

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