December 2004 Issue

NATIONAL NEWS

CANADA NEEDS MORE CANADIANS, AND EVEN MORE BIG IDEAS
by Anna Smith

Canadian inventors are responsible for some of the most important discoveries ever made – discoveries that have changed the lives of people all over the world.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

YOUNG GAME INVENTORS CONTEST
by Anna Smith

In keeping with its commitment to help children learn and interact while having fun, University Games is sponsoring its annual National Young Game Inventors Contest (NYGIC) for 2004. In this one-of-a-kind contest, kids invent their own board game and have the chance to have it produced! Created by University Games in 1993, the NYGIC encourages imagination, critical thinking, deductive reasoning, creativity, and education through the process of board game invention.

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NEW MEDICAL IMAGING TECHNIQUE
by Anna Smith

Researchers at Rensselaer are working to develop a new medical imaging technique designed to determine the relative stiffness of soft tissue for the diagnosis of injury and disease.

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ORANGE COUNTY WATER DISTRICT ONE-OF-A-KIND INVENTION
by Anna Smith

While the rest of the world continues to use old technology to clean percolation lakes, Orange County Water District (OCWD) is now using four full-scale versions of its patented Basin Cleaning Vehicle (BCV) hood technology. OCWD’s cleaning method is unique in that a BCV hood—similar to a swimming pool cleaner—cleans the lake while it is full of water. Traditional methods involve emptying the lake, drying it out, and scraping the bottom with heavy equipment to remove one-quarter to one-inch thick clogging layer. The four new barge-like BCV’s cost $4 million and are projected to help increase the amount of water available for Orange County residents.

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INTERNATIONAL PATENT FILINGS EXCEED 110,000 FOR 2004
by Anna Smith

The number of international patent applications filed in 2003 using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), exceeded 110,000 for the third consecutive year, with users from the United States of America topping the list. Applicants from Japan clinched the second place over Germany, for the first time in over a decade. The PCT is the cornerstone of the international patent system and offers a rapid, flexible and cost-effective route to obtain patent protection in the 123 countries that have signed up to the system.

"The PCT is an effective business solution for companies and inventors to seek patent protection in a large number of countries. On top of its enormous advantages in facilitating the process of obtaining patent protection in multiple countries, the PCT is a huge bank of valuable technical information that is extremely useful in mapping technological trends," said Mr. Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General responsible for the PCT. "Such information is a key resource for analysts in their search for commercial investment opportunities and is also invaluable in enabling technology transfer to promote economic development", he noted.

Inventors and industry from the United States of America (35.7% of all applications in 2003), Japan (15.2% ), Germany (12.7%), , United Kingdom (5.5%), France (4.3%) topped the list of biggest users of the system. For the first time in 13 years, Japan ranked second over Germany. Use of the PCT in Japan grew by a record 24% in 2003. The Republic of Korea (15.5% growth), and the Netherlands (4% growth) also showed a significant increase in filings.

Of the 110,114 applications in 2003, the companies that filed the most international patent applications with the PCT were Philips Electronics N.V. (Netherlands), Siemens (Germany), Matsushita (Japan), Bosch (Germany), Sony (Japan), Nokia (Finland), 3M (USA), Infineon (Germany), BASF (Germany), and Intel (USA).

International patent applications received from developing countries in 2003 saw an 11% increase. The list was topped by Republic of Korea with 2,947 applications, followed by China (1.205), India (611), South Africa (376), Singapore (313), Brazil (221) and Mexico (123). Both India and the Republic of Korea saw a double-digit increase in their use of the PCT, experiencing 27.3% and 15.5% increases, respectively.

The top ten users of the PCT from developing countries include: LG Electronics (Republic of Korea), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Republic of Korea), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) (India), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd (China), Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. (India), LG Chem Ltd. (Republic of Korea), Hetero Drugs Ltd (India), CJ Corporation (Republic of Korea), Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (Republic of Korea), Young Suk Son(Republic of Korea) and ZTE Corporation (China).

The main fields of technology in which PCT applications were published in 2003 are broken down according to the eight main technical fields of the International Patent Classification - a system designed to facilitate the retrieval of technical information found in patent documents - and are outlined in Annex I. Applications can be filed in any language and are published in one of the following seven languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.
In 2003, the same year that PCT marked its 25th anniversary of operations, membership grew with the accession of five new states, all of which are developing countries, namely, Papua New Guinea, Syrian Arab Republic, Egypt, Botswana and Namibia. Developing countries make up 56% of the membership of the PCT, representing 69 of the 123 countries that have signed up to the treaty.

WIPO continued to improve the delivery of PCT services in 2003 by laying the groundwork for the launch in February 2004 of a fully electronic filing service (PCT-SAFE, see PR/2004/374) and additional PCT fee reductions.

A new schedule of fees and fee reductions took effect on January 1, 2004 and include:

  • a new flat-rate international filing fee at 1,400 Swiss francs. This simplified fee structure replaces the former basic and designation fees;
  • a reduced handling fee;
  • all applicants from least developed countries can now benefit from a fee reduction of 75% (all states that qualify for this and other fee reductions are listed on http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/fees/fee_reduction.pdf);
  • new scale of fee reductions of up to 300 Swiss francs for international applications filed electronically.

In 2003, the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office began its functions as an International Preliminary Examining Authority under the PCT. The National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland was also appointed as International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority, bringing the number of Authorities to 12. The Finnish office is expected to begin these operations in the course of 2004, as is the Canadian office, which was appointed in 2002.

The PCT offers inventors and industry an advantageous route for obtaining patent protection internationally. By filing one "international" patent application under the PCT, protection of an invention can be sought simultaneously in each of a large number of countries. Both applicants and patent offices of PCT member states benefit from the uniform formality requirements, the international search and preliminary examination reports, and the centralized international publication provided by the PCT system. The national patent granting procedure and the related expenses are postponed, in the majority of cases, by up to 18 months (or even longer in the case of some offices) as compared with the traditional patent system. By this time, the applicant will have received important value-added information concerning the likelihood of obtaining patent protection as well as potential commercial interest in that invention.

Annex I
The top ten countries of origin (2003 filings) are:

Country Number of PCT applications Percentage share of total
United States of America
39,250
35.7
Japan
16,774
15.2
Germany
13,979
12.7
United Kingdom
6,090
5.5
France
4,723
4.3
Netherlands
4,180
3.8
Republic of Korea
2,947
2.7
Sweden
2,491
2.3
Switzerland and Liechtenstein
2,379
2.2
Canada
2,102
1.9

Main fields of technology in which PCT applications were published in 2003 according to the International Patent Classification

Title of Class
[Title of Section]
No. of PCT applications
published
% of all applications
published
Medical/veterinary science; hygiene
e.g. diagnostic apparatus such as endoscopes,
computer tomographs, artificial heart and kidneys,
prostheses, medicinal preparations
[Human necessities]
14,195
13.2
Electric communication technique
e.g. broadcasting systems, secret communication,
television systems, loudspeakers, microphones
[Electricity]
9,378
8.7
Instruments; computing; calculating; counting
e.g. artificial neural networks, 2 or 3 dimensional image
generation, computer aided design, text processing equipment
[Physics]
8,255
7.7
Basic electric elements
Lasers, batteries and fuel cells, integrated circuits
[Electricity]
6,700
6.2
Organic chemistry
e.g. steroids, sugars, nucleic acides, antibiotics, vitamins
[Chemistry; metallurgy]
6,240
5.8
Instruments: measuring; testing
e.g. analyzing materials e.g. food, positioning and
navigation systems, testing of engines and vehicles
[Physics]
5,959
5.5
Biochemistry; beer; spirits; wine; vinegar;
microbiology; enzymology; mutation or genetic engineering: e.g. pasteurization, sterilization, tissue or cell cultures, preparation of compounds by using micro-organisms, methods of genetic engineering
[Chemistry]
5,049
4.7
Organic macromolecular compounds, their
preparation/chemical working-up; compositions
based thereon: e.g. polymers, starch, cellulose, viscose, rubber
[Chemistry]
2,769
2.6
Instruments: optics
e.g. optical fibers, microscopes, telescopes, liquid crystal displays
[Physics]
2,286
2.1
Conveying: packing; storing, handling thin or
filamentary material
Containers, e.g. bottles, barrels, cans, cartons, apparatus for filling containers, conveyers
[Performing Operations Transporting]
2,285
2.1
Others
44,613
41.4

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
(continued)

INTERNATIONAL PATENT FILINGS EXCEED 110,000 FOR 2004
by Anna Smith

The number of international patent applications filed in 2003 using the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), exceeded 110,000 for the third consecutive year, with users from the United States of America topping the list. Applicants from Japan clinched the second place over Germany, for the first time in over a decade. The PCT is the cornerstone of the international patent system and offers a rapid, flexible and cost-effective route to obtain patent protection in the 123 countries that have signed up to the system.

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CELL PHONE EDGES ALARM CLOCK AS MOST HATED INVENTION, YET ONE WE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT
by Anna Smith

Nearly one in three (30%) adults say the cell phone is the invention they most hate but cannot live without, according to the eighth annual Lemelson-MIT Invention Index study. The cell phone narrowly beat the alarm clock (25%) and television (23%) for the distinction in the survey, which gauges Americans’ attitudes toward invention. Shaving razors, microwaves, coffee pots, computers and vacuum cleaners were also cited as essential, yet despised, inventions.

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ALION INVENTION PROVIDING GREATER SAFETY TO MILITARY PERSONNEL WINS ARMY AWARD
by Anna Smith

Alion Science and Technology was recognized for contributions to developing one of the “Army’s Greatest Inventions” of the past year. The award was presented to Alion's customer, the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), National Automotive Center, where a team of engineers helped develop a new weapons mount that can vastly increase the safety of troops traveling in “Humvees”. The weapons mount is now being used by the US military in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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