Issue #3/2015D.Sokolov Patenting of inventions in Russia: the main problems and their solutions
Against various evaluation criteria, Russia is 10 to 100 times less advanced in the protection of intellectual property (IP) than the world leaders. In 2012, Rospatent issued 32.9 thousand patents to the Russian citizens, whereas Japan issued approximately 280 thousand patents to its residents, the USA issued 250 thousand patents, China – 220 thousand, South Korea – 115 thousand. At first glance, the lag of Russia behind these countries appears dramatic, but it is not catastrophic. However, according to the international patenting statistics, the Russians received only 822 international patents in 2012. Even worse, if you subtract the number of patents granted by the Moscow-based Eurasian Patent Organization from this total number, the remainder goes down to 666 patents, i.e. 2.9% of all the patents held by the Russian citizens. In Japan, this figure is 118 thousand (34.4% of all patents granted), in the USA – 105 thousand (46.5 %), in South Korea – 28 thousand (25%). Thus, the number of patents obtained by the Russian citizens in other countries is more than 100 times lower than that of the world leaders, and it is 177 times lower than the Japanese figure. In 2013, the growth rate of international patenting in other countries increased: the USA inventors received 302 948 international patents, and the Chinese came to third place after the USA and Japan in the number of international applications filed (23 million). In 2013, Japan, China and South Korea accounted for 38% of all the applications filed under the PCT system (in 2007, it was 25%). In 2013, Russia filed 1 087 international applications, which is two applications less than in 2012.
Another criterion of the intellectual property protection is the inventive activity coefficient (Ki), which is the number of patents per 10 thousand people. In this parameter, we are 13 times lower than the world’s leader South Korea, and we rank the twentieth in the world. The countries that are ahead of Russia are Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Australia and even North Korea with 3.4 patents per 10 thousand people (our number is 3.1). However, if you take the Ki coefficient in international patenting, we find out that our indicator is not 13, but more than 100 times lower than that of South Korea. You can read more information about it in .
The picture is even more depressing in the sphere of high technologies. For example, in nanotechnology, the world’s number of applications and patents related to the production and use of graphene exceeded 13 thousand in 2013, whereas the Russian inventors registered just only five patents of this type.
The expert community assesses that the patent activity in Russia has continued declining in 2014-2015. According to the Patent Information Center, the Technosphere Publishing company, and the magazines “The Inventor” and “Patents and Licenses”, the demand for patent literature will dramatically drop in 2015. The long-time subscribers stop paying for the literature, which results in reduced circulation and, in the absence of the state support, patent publications may soon cease to exist. For example, one of the few magazines for teaching invention called “Inventor and rationalizer”, which was first issued in 1929 with the welcoming article written by Albert Einstein, is currently published with a circulation of two thousand copies, whereas in 1970s it was published in 400 thousand copies.
The number of Russian inventions protected by the patents of the Russian Federation is also going down relative to other countries. This parameter is dropping by 15-20% every year. In some areas (e.g., in biotechnology and digital image processing), the number of foreign inventions exceeded 50% of the total number of inventions registered in Russia. It should also be noted that an umbrella-type patent is used to protect a few different technologies. For example, a patent for digital image processing in photovoltaic and probe microscopy may simultaneously protect the method of image analysis in the missile targeting systems , although the text of the application may not say a word about missiles. At the same time, both missiles and airplanes are directly patented in our country by foreign companies as well, for example, France, the USA and even Australia.
Another strategic area is the fuel and energy complex. Over the past 10 years, the number of patents and applications from foreign applicants in the field of oil production and refining has accounted for 7.6% of the total number of patents filed in the Russian Federation. The leader in this list is USA and the second place is taken by the Netherlands, followed by Norway, Brazil, Ukraine and even the Seychelles. In the sphere of gas production, this parameter is more than 20%, the Netherlands being the leader, followed by Germany and Norway. These patents apply to entirely new methods of production of raw materials, to the improvement of the existing refining technologies, and to the creation of new components. It should be noted that most of the foreign patents have multilink umbrella-type claims describing a range of inventions, and the number of dependent claims often amounts to dozens, which, in fact, increases the number of foreign inventions covered by the Russian patents.
Having received a Russian patent, a foreign patent holder acquires the right to prohibit the manufacture, the sale and the use of the patented modern technologies in our country. Considering that, in the framework of the import substitution strategy, many foreign technologies and devices have to be replaced by the domestic ones, and an increasing number of components are to be produced by the Russian manufacturers, the patent protection is becoming more important.
The major focus in long-run state strategy in the field of intellectual property (IP) is made on the management. All the training system is around IP management. The issue of creating inventions practically remains untouched in this strategy, and patents are only considered from a legal point of view, although the process of inventing and patenting must go together, and, in fact, flow from the legal sphere into the field of engineering sciences. Russia has a system of training patent lawyers and patent attorneys and a training standard for the "patenting engineer" specialty is being created, but the system for training inventors, which is one of the main goals of any technical college, is lacking. The vast number of articles, reports and books in the field of intellectual property describe IP management, and only a tiny part of them is dedicated to the contemporary technology of inventing and patenting.
The low patent activity in Russia was mainly caused by "the generation gap" in the industry, which happened in 1990s. Novice inventors have no sources to learn what may constitute a patentable invention today, and how it can be patented. Patent lawyers and patent attorneys, who the government relies on, cannot resolve the problem, because the majority of them have never invented anything and they are not able to help inventors to bring their initial technical solution to the level of invention. The scheme of interaction between the inventor and the patent lawyer, when the former invents and the latter issues a patent, does not work in most cases. This is usually caused by an insufficient inventive level of the proposed technical solutions. There are other causes of the poor patent protection of domestic inventions, too .