Patent applications: Russia and the world

Patent applications: Russia, the rest of the BRICS countries, and a few other countries compared

PCT patent apps non-residents-2005-12_BRICS+

The graph above (data source: World Bank) shows how Russia compares with selected other countries in terms of patent applications filed through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) or a national patent office between 2005 to 2012. Data are from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – the World Intellectual Property Indicators – and published by the World Bank as part of the World Development Indicators.

What does this graph show, and why is it interesting? It compares the performance of the BRICS countries plus Indonesia, Mexico, and Japan on a widely used indicator of innovation output – applications for international patents. Here are some key findings:

  • In terms of the number of PCT patent applications by non-residents, China is well ahead of the other seven countries looked at here: Russia, Brazil, Mexico, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Japan.
  • China saw a steady increase in PCT applications since 2005, from 79,842 to over 117,000 in 2012. That’s a 47% increase in 7 years.
  • Brazil is second to China for number of PCT applications.
  • Russia (followed closely by Brazil and India) saw the biggest percentage increase from 2005 to 2012 – a huge increase of 80% (Russia) and 75% (Brazil and India).
  • Mexico and Russia had approximately the same number of PCT applications in 2012 – 14020 for Mexico and 15510 for Russia. The difference is that Russia saw a huge increase since 2005 while the number of Mexico’s PCT applications remained relatively stable since 2005.
  • Only Japan saw a percentage decrease in PCT applications – fall of 5.6% between 2005-12.

Russia’s huge increase (of 80% between 2005 and 2012) may be explained by the government’s modernization and innovation policies which started around 2007/2008. This is something to investigate further.


Modernising Moscow


A square in one of central Moscow’s many new office districts. The Starbucks on the left, a foreign restaurant on the right, and standing between them – a reflection of an Orthodox church. Photo taken by I.Wade, 11 September 2013.

I’m spending most of March 2014 in Moscow for a new job in a university. I’ve noticed several things which are so different from the first time I came to Moscow in January 2001.

Take a trip to a supermarket. It’s a small example but insightful. In 2001, the only supermarkets were for the ultra wealthy in the centre of Moscow. For ‘ordinary’ Russians, the choice was a market or a small(ish) grocery shop in their neighbourhood, where the security guards made sure you keep your bags in a locker before entering the shop and the shop assistants scowled at you.

Fast forward to 2014, and Muscovites (residents of Moscow) have seemingly endless choices of places to buy their food and drink (and clothes, stationery, and household goods) at pretty much any time of day or night. Big supermarkets, including foreign-owned ones such as a French-owned supermarket that starts with A, have been very successful in winning over large segments of the Russian consumer market. Now you can enter a supermarket (or small grocery shop) with however large a bag and not get shouted at by a security guard who suspects you are going to steal everything. Now you can buy durable, re-usable shopping bags and boxes. You can borrow a trolley if you put in a 10 rouble coin (about 20 pence) which you get back when you return the trolley. The range of products for sale is as large – if not bigger – as what you’d see in any supermarket in the USA or Western Europe. You can get store discount cards and pay for your purchases by card after queueing up in an orderly fashion and waiting your turn.

Is this an example of what Dr Sam Greene, Director of the Russia Institute at King’s College London, meant when he said at an event at the LSE in February 2014 that Russia is modernising through individual citizens re-shaping the space they live in, making the most of new opportunities to travel, and have a better quality of life? Perhaps. Of course, Moscow is not Russia and a quarter of the population live in rural areas where life is very different from Moscow. And I still believe in the primacy of institutions (the ‘rules of the game’) in governing peoples’ everyday lives and behaviour and the country’s long-term development.

This is the first post on my blog. I aim to add a new post each month about my impressions of Russia based on my travels around the country in the last 14 years, about modernisation, and about science and innovation in Russia.