This is what the first official Industrial Property data for Spain in 2015 give us to understand. Looking at Spain in the mirror.
We have just received an advance of the 2015 European Patent Office statistics (1) and, although it may seem a contradiction, Spanish applications for European patents increased and decreased in the same proportion in the same year.
Certain mass media only refer to the first point of view (increase), we should face the future with optimism, but the second and most hidden aspect (the decrease) includes a piece of information that may be cause for concern in the medium term.
The reason for this possible contradiction is that the EPO uses two ways for recording the number of European patent applications: filing vs. application (2). Thus the filing (3) criteria counts as European patents all those PCT requests that have paid the designation fees, assigned to the European patent (as this is a one-off payment they normally include all the countries which form part of the PCT treaty, including figure of the European patent) as well as to any other European patents that are directly applied for. On the other hand the application (4) criteria only considers as an application for a European patent when the same has effectively been requested.
We should point out that when a PCT patent has been applied for prior to this it is classified as a Euro-PCT.
Data from the EPO indicates that in 2015 Spain has fallen by 3.8% in filing and increased by 3.8% in applications for European patents.
We can only be happy about this second bit of information. The first one is open to two possible analyses which are a source of preoccupation:
1.- Does this mean that the applications submitted by Spanish citizens for PCT patents are the ones that have dropped? The WIPO has still not closed the data for 2015, but everything points to a drop of nearly -8%.
However, it should be mentioned that even the EPO itself highlights that the data it has on PCTs are an estimation, which means that we shall have to wait for the WIPO to publish the definitive ones in order to reach a clearer assessment.
2.- As the PCT is usually a step prior to applying for patents in foreign countries later on and which is one of the main uses of the European patent, the question is whether we should foresee a drop in the figures for Applications for European patents over the next year?
Or does it just reflect the preference of the Spanish for making a direct application of European patents to the detriment of the channels available to accede to this status by previously going through others such as the PCT? Given the seriousness of the situation this would be the best news.
None of these indicators would be especially relevant if we did not know their direct relationship with other indexes that are essential for the country, especially those related to competitiveness. Given all the above, during the next few weeks we shall carry out a special follow-up of any data which may emerge and include certain analyses that we believe to be of interest.
(1) With fresh and very interesting data www.epo.org/about-us/annual-reports-statistics/annual-report/2015.html
(2) A double standard that has not gone unnoticed in many of the media, amongst which we would like to highlight Francisco Moreno's blog, currently one of the best as regards Spanish Industrial property and, perhaps, the best as regards patents.