7,500 Patent Applications are Filed Annually in Israel patent filing office

In his exit interview, held on January 13, 2011, the previous and much appreciated Israel
designs + filing, Trademark & Designs Registrar revealed interesting facts about the Israeli Patent Office. In the exit interview Dr. Noam revealed that some 7,500 patent applications are filed annually with the Israeli Patent Office. Some 80% of these are filed by foreign entities and only 20% (1,500 applications) by Israeli entities. The interview also states who the top filers in Israel between 2006 – 2010 are. The first filer is Qualcomm, not IBM as I would have expected. Qualcomm filed 442 applications annually between 2006  and 2010. The second is Hoffman LaRoche with 350 applications and at third place is BASF with 175 applications. IBM is not in the top 5.  The Israeli Weizmann Institute commercialization arm – Yeda – is the first Israeli filer with a mere 89 applications a year. The second with 86 applications is Iscar and in third place Teva with 83 applications. Dr. Noam also stated that Israel patent filing which also deals with
Israel trademark filing Office was recently selected to be a WIPO searching and in the future examining authority and has an income of NIS50 Million (just under USD14 million) but a budget of NIS25 Million.

These numbers primarily show that top US and European filers don’t consider filing in Israel as they do elsewhere, despite the developed high tech industry, relative high standard of living and ease and relatively low cost of enforcement.

Even Israeli entities seem to prefer filing elsewhere and not in Israel. For comparison just in  2008 Israeli entities filed over 4,500 applications in the US alone. In the same year they filed just over 1,500 patent applications with the Israeli patent office.

We tend to think highly of Israel and its patent office, but a review of published filing information by WIPO, shows a more realistic picture. Compared with Singapore (which is much smaller in size and population) Israeli entities file less.  Likewise, Israel generates less patent applications than Singapore. In 2008 Israeli entities filed a mere 270 applications in Japan while Singaporeans filed over 1,200 applications. The statistics published by WIPO show that Israelis tend to focus on the United States. Over 3,000 out of the total 6,173 patent applications filed by Israelis in 2008 were filed in the US. The total division has a large margin of error because WIPO reports some 1,691 applications which are unknown. Still the differences are staggering. Singaporeans filed nearly 600 patent applications in Germany in 2008. Israeli entities managed a mere 44 and in general seem to file very little in Europe compared with Singaporeans.

Finally, Singaporeans filed 90 applications in 2008 in Israel and Israelis filed only 14 in Singapore.

Other filers also think Israel is not the best place to file a patent application. Filers from China filed in 2008 only 17 patent applications in Israel compared with 71 in Singapore. If you think that China and Singapore are geographically close then think again. Canadians filed in 2008 in Singapore 171 patent applications compared with 76 in Israel.

These differences may be the result of many reasons, but at the end of the day, this may also show what foreign filers think about Israel. When they are faced with the decision of choosing between Singapore and Israel, it seems they will most likely go with Singapore, despite the different population size and thriving local high tech industry in Israel.