Facts on Science, Technology and Innovation

Southeast Asia and European Union



Analysis of patent output and co-patenting

As part of our quantitative analyses of research cooperation between Southeast Asia and Europe, the SEA-EU-NET team also studied patenting activity in Southeast Asia. We analysed patent application activity at major patent authorities in Southeast Asia in order to get a feeling for the intellectual property market and portfolio in the region. We also analysed patterns in national and international patent applications involving ASEAN-based inventors. Finally, we analysed patent activities by ASEAN-based applicants.

The analysis of patenting activity at major patent authorities shows two things: First, we see that the region is an important market for intellectual property. Patent filing activity has increased in all major patent offices. Second, there are major geographical imbalances in output. The majority of patent applications between 2003 and 2013 is filed either in Singapore or Malaysia. Although at a lower level, the number of filings still increases in all other patent offices in the region. Not only is patent filing in Southeast Asia increasing, but also patenting output involving ASEAN-based inventors.

From 2003 to 2013, the annual output of international patent applications with ASEAN-based inventors tripled. National patent application output grew by around 30%. These numbers reflect an increase in innovation activity, but also a considerable policy push towards patenting, especially when it comes to international patents.

Technology-wise, the region’s knowledge production is topic-wise highly specialised in national patent applications, while international patent applications do not show such a clear thematic focus. Most national applications represent technologies needed for the production of semiconductors, computer technology, audio-visual technology, electoral machinery, apparatus, energy, measurement, and telecommunications. International applications most often are technologies for computer technology, audio-visual technology, semiconductors, medical technology and biotechnology.

Co-inventions, here understood as applications with inventors from more than one country, represent knowledge flows between different people, companies and regions. During the years 2003-2013, ASEAN-based inventors collaboratively developed 3,500 national and international patent applications respectively. When the result of a collaborative research process is a nationally filed patent application, partners are most frequently based in the United States. If the invention is getting filed as an international patent application, the most important partners are based in the United States and Europe. Technology-wise, partners from the US are most important in the development of semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and computer technology. European partners are most often involved in the development of technology in the fields of basic materials chemistry, organic fine chemistry and macromolecular chemistry and polymers.

The analysis of ASEAN-based applicants allows us to draw some other interesting conclusions. IP ownership in ASEAN is concentrated: The top 100 applicants own 81% of national and 65% of international applications involving ASEAN-based applicants. Two thirds of national patent applications and almost 90% of international PCT applications involving ASEAN-based applicants also involve ASEAN-based inventors. This means that the knowledge imports to the region by ASEAN-based IP owners are limited. Conversely, foreign ownership, i.e. knowledge outflows, are slightly more frequent.

Another important dimension that we have analysed is foreign ownership of patent applications. Foreign ownership is an indication of knowledge flows. The analysis shows, for instance, that international PCT patent applications developed with the participation of Singapore or Malaysia-based inventors are most frequently owned or co-owned by EU-based applicants. Foreign ownership of US-based entities is less frequent in international patent applications. It is more frequent than EU foreign ownership in national patent applications with ASEAN-based inventors.

We have visualised foreign ownership patterns for the example of Singapore. A screenshot is attached. Do not hesitate to contact us in case you are interested in the live interactive version.

For further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the SEA-EU-NET patent analysis team through Stefan Philipp or Alexander Degelsegger.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological
development and demonstration under grant agreement no 311784.

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