Friday, January 04, 2008

Patents in Spain

The other day I had a meeting with the Spanish Office for Patents and Trademarks. They gave me some high-level indicators of the situation of patents in Spain. The figures are taken from the notes I took during the conversation, so they may not be accurate. Nevertheless, they are interesting and show the (poor) state of play in Spain.


  • 3000 Patents per year in Spain
    —CSIC: 130 patents/y
    —All univs: 300 patents/y
    —Grupo Antolin: 20/y
    —Most patents are in pharma sector
    —350 patents/year in ICT area
  • EPO denies 20% of patents
    —What is accepted usually is modified since original filing
  • ICT patents typically last around 7 to 8 years
  • 5% of patents reach market
  • Two types of patents
    —High quality (with exam)
    —Low quality (no exam)
  • Filing patent in Spain costs 480€, legal support up to 3000€
  • 12-18 months between filing patent in Spain and decision of world-wide coverage (involves costs)

Judge for yourself, but I think we have some work to do here ...

2 comments:

Patent skeptic said...

Fist of all, it is a well know fact that most patents have no economic value at all, so I hardly see the benefits of increasing the number of patents in Spain just for the sake of it with the current productive structure (I'll come back to this point later). Additionally, it is a common understanding that patents are used as a proxy to measure innovation output because it is an objective measurement that can be obtained very easily and not because they are the best way to measure innovation output.

However and leaving the value of patents aside, Spain GDP is composed mainly by service sectors (communications, banking, tourism, etc.) and construction and in these sectors patents are a rare occurrence, the same could be applied to SMEs, which are the most common type of enterprises in Spain. Indeed, Spanish banks, telecommunications and construction companies are outperforming most of their European counterparts with almost no patents, which seems to indicate that patents are not relevant for competing successfully in these sectors.

Using an example that you know quite well, Telefonica has almost no patents if compared with France Telecom (7,800), BT (~8000) or Deutsche Telekom (5663 IPRs), nevertheless Telefonica has been outperforming them for some time now.

Another completely different story would be if you are suggesting that Spain should transform its economic structure to become more active in more "patentable industries" such as pharmaceutical, electronics, automotive (Antolin is a good example of this) and so on...

Finally, I suggest reading both "2006 TrendChart report: Can We Measure and Compare Innovation in Services?", which I think would be an enlightening reading; and an article that appeared in one of Telefonica publications:
http://sociedaddelainformacion.telefonica.es/jsp/articulos/detalle.jsp?elem=1894

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