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News : Innovation Last Updated: July 06, 2015 - 7:10 AM

Irish Patents Office Annual Report 2014: Once again Bruton has nothing to say
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
July 06, 2015 - 7:10 AM


Irish Patents Office Annual Report 2014: The latest report on patenting activity in Ireland was published last week and once again on a day when three ministerial statements/ press releases were issued to the media, Richard Bruton, enterprise, jobs and innovation, chose not to comment on his agency's report — this is revealing because even an agreement with an enterprise agency on as low as 15 to 20 planned new jobs over 3 to 5 years merits a ministerial imprimatur.

The minister has got his wish and there has been no coverage of the report in any other media outlet besides Finfacts since it was published on Tuesday June 30.

The report says national full term (20 years) patent filings received during 2014 were down by 12.5% on 2013 (from 135 to 118) while the number of short term (10 years) patent applications filed were down 20% on 2013 (from 255 to 203).

The key data are on filing of international patents 1) applications for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patents where the first application is an Irish resident relate to Irish or foreign citizens or Irish or foreign-owned companies operating in Ireland or Irish government agencies, institutes or third-level institutions. By filing one international patent application under the PCT, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in up to 148 countries throughout the world. 2) at the European Patent Office which covers 38 European countries.

PCT applications were at 440 in 2014 compared with 432 in 2013 and 422 in 2016.

Applications to the European Patent Office (EPO) were at 608 in 2014 compared with 566 in 2013 and 373 in 2005. Patent grants were at 118 in 2005 and 254 in 2014 according to EPO data.

The Irish Patents Office report says there were 709 filings at the EPO in 2014 down from 765 in 2010.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Trinity College, the University of Dublin, was the top PCT patent filer in 2013; of the top 10 filers, there are 5 foreign-owned firms (including 2 that are Irish-only for tax purposes) and 5 Irish third level institutions. There are no top 50 exporters among them.

The Irish patent level is low despite the large presence of significant units of some of America's biggest companies. Patent quality is not reflected in a count of applications but it is still an important trend indicator of a country's intellectual property (IP) capital.

Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark had the highest per capita level of applications in Europe in 2014 and Ireland had a 12th ranking with a ratio of 126 per million — close to the EU average of 131.

The 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation consolidated their share of 35% of the total filings at the EPO last year. Filings from Germany accounted for 11%, followed by France (5%), Switzerland and the Netherlands (3% each), the UK, Sweden and Italy (2% each). As in previous years, around two-thirds of the filings at the EPO in 2014 were from non-European countries. The US accounted for the largest share with 26%, followed by Japan (18%), China (9%) and Korea (6%).

Gerard Barrett, controller of the Irish Patents Office commented: "even though the R&D which has given rise to the IP may have been carried out in Ireland, the applications might not necessarily be recorded as filings by Irish resident firms."

According to Irish government data, foreign-owned firms accounted for 66.6% of total R&D expenditure in 2012 but a large proportion of foreign-owned firms (54%) are not R&D active.

Around 300 firms account for almost 70% of total R&D expenditure in 2012. Only 13% of foreign-owned firms (107 firms), each spending over €2m, account for 88% of R&D spending in the foreign-owned sector in 2012.

Exports from indigenous enterprises are largely from low R&D-intensive and non-R&D active sectors. The top three exporting sectors for indigenous firms — Food, Drink & Tobacco, Other Traditional Manufacturing, and Business Services — account for around two thirds of sales and exports of Irish-owned State agency-supported firms. Together, however, these three sectors account for only 28% of R&D expenditure in Irish-owned firms.

About half of the staff in the foreign-firm dominant ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector work in administration.

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