Updated 24 May 2023
Steady growth in the number of Eurasian patent applications
International companies scaling back their Russian operations, seeking approval to leave the Russian market or making a complete withdrawal in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have been the subject of several widely published studies.
Annual statistics on Russian, Eurasian and Ukrainian patent applications shed more light on the far-reaching consequences of Russia’s attack and the outlook the foreign companies currently have on the Russian and Ukrainian market as well as the stability of the intellectual property system in the region.
While the foreign applicants’ filing numbers in Russia dropped by 30% in 2022 as a result of foreign companies withdrawing from the market and scaling down their investments, the Eurasian patent system increased its popularity, marking the highest number of Eurasian applications since 2012 from foreign applicants (3097). Although this number is still considerably lower than that from foreign applicants in Russia (7954), it is evident that some of the applicants in 2022 elected the Eurasian patent system over filing with the Russian Patent Office.
Patent application filings in Russia by foreign companies dropped prominently in 2022
The total number of Russian patent applications filed by foreign companies and individuals in 2022 declined by almost one third in 2022 as compared to 2021 (7964 and 11408 applications, respectively). Applicants from the US (1556), China (1232), Switzerland (721), Germany (693) and Japan (605) filed the most last year.
It is notable that while companies from e.g., Germany, Japan, the US, France, and the Netherlands decreased their filings by 40-49% as compared to 2021, UK and Chinese companies filed about the same number of Russian patent applications in 2021 and 2022. Applicants from the Republic of Korea, Belgium, and India increased their Russian filing numbers in 2022 by 13%, 9%, and 12%, respectively.
Yearly number of Eurasian patent applications on the rise
The Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO), unlike the Russian Patent Office operating under the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, is an intergovernmental organization. The Eurasian Patent Office, despite its location in Moscow, is an independent IP office and has been attracting foreign applicants by offering a single examination procedure and uniform patent protection in those member states of the EAPO where the patent holder elects to pay the annuities.
The Eurasian patent system increased its popularity last year, as the total number of applications, 3731, from Eurasian and foreign applicants filed in 2022 was the highest in the past decade. Applicants from the US filed more applications (1171, a 6,3% increase from 2021) than any other year during the past decade. Swiss companies filed 288 applications (a 23% increase), German applicants 228 (a 13% decrease), and Chinese applicants 205 (an 80% increase).
In total, foreign companies filed 3097 Eurasian applications, which is 83% of all the Eurasian applications, and a 3,7% increase compared to the year 2021. Similarly to the past years, applicants from the pharmaceutical industry and medical sector had the largest share, as 24,2% of Eurasian applications filed in 2022 related to preparations for medical purposes (A61K), 23,7% related to organic chemistry (C07, A01N) and 7,7% related to medical science (A61-A63).
It should be noted that a part of the workload related to Eurasian patent searches is outsourced to the Russian Patent Office, however there is no indication in Eurasian search reports as to whether the search of a particular application was done in-house or was outsourced.
UKRPATENT filing numbers show only a small decrease for foreign applicants
Due to institutional reform of the Ukrainian intellectual property system that continued in 2022, the Ukrainian National Office of Intellectual Property and Innovations (UKRNOIPI) in November 2022 assumed all the relevant functions of UKRPATENT, including examination of patent applications and granting patents. For this reason, complete annual statistics for 2022 are not yet available.
UKRPATENT, however, has provided patent application filing numbers for the period from January to September 2022. In total, 1932 patent applications were filed during this period, which is a 21% decrease compared to the same period of 2021. Of all applications filed in 2022, about 74% (1431 applications) belonged to foreign applicants – a 6,1% drop compared to 2021, which is surprisingly small in view of the fact that the country has been in a devastating war for most of the last year.
No major changes in the grant rate and first office action pendency
In 2022, the Russian Patent Office rejected 284 patent applications filed by foreign applicants, whereas in 2021 the number was 199. The percentage of rejected patent applications to accepted patent applications was in 2022 3,5% for foreign applicants and 6,9% for Russian applications; in 2021 the percentage was 2,3% and 11%, respectively.
The grant rate, calculated by dividing the number of issued patents during a calendar year by the total number of issued patents, rejected applications, and abandoned applications, was 72% for foreigners and 78% for Russian applicants in 2022, with 74% and 78% in 2021, respectively. During 2018-2020, the corresponding grant rate for foreign applicants varied between 80-84%; the current decrease of the grant rate can be partially explained by an increased number of dropped patent applications, as foreign companies have been scaling back their investments in Russia.
As to examining the patent applications, both the Russian and Eurasian patent offices have operated rather swiftly and without unnecessary delays. During the past year, the first office action in Russia was issued in average within about 4 months. In the Eurasian Patent Office, the Mechanics and physics division issued the first office action within 5,6 months and the Chemistry and medicines division within 14,8 months.
No legislative changes or additions aimed at applicants from countries labeled as “unfriendly” by the Russian government have been made to the Russian Civil Code part IV, the Eurasian Patent Convention (EAPC) or the Regulations under the EAPC.
Decree No. 299, which was widely reported after its publication on 6 March 2022, introduced amendments to point 2 of the Government Decision No. 1767 (2021), defining how the amount of compensation paid to IP right holders is calculated in the event that an invention or industrial design is used without the holder’s consent.
While the Decree added that for patent holders from unfriendly states the amount of compensation is 0% (instead of 0,5%) of the actual proceeds, the strict grounds given in the Russian Civil Code for the use of an invention, utility model or industrial design without the consent of the IP right holder have so far, according to our knowledge, limited the practical implications of the 0% compensation policy only to decisions related to Eurasian patents covering an anti-Covid medicine “Remdesivir“.
For the time being, the Russian and Eurasian patent offices continue examining patent applications and granting patents as usual – they even consider requests under the PPH programmes commenced before the war. The regular substantive examination is also carried out without delays in a reasonable time frame, as evidenced by the first office action pendency times.
The published filing numbers for Ukraine covered only the first nine months of 2022, and while it was expected for foreign companies to limit filings of new patent applications, the decrease was only 6,4% compared to the same period of 2021. International applicants seem to have interest in the Ukrainian market and hope for stability.
Table 1. Number of patent applications from foreign applicants in Russia and Eurasia filed 2017-2022.
Table 2 (updated on 24 May 2023). Foreign countries with most patent applications filed in Russia, Eurasia, and Ukraine in 2022 (comparison with 2021).
Update 24 May 2023: According to the annual statistics received from the Ukrainian officials, foreign applicants filed 1966 patent applications in 2022 (a 6,1% decrease compared to 2021), while domestic companies filed 794 applications (a 39% decrease).