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For decades, the US has been the origin of breakthrough innovations and one of the leading applicants for PCT. In 2020, the country accounted for 59,230 filings and held the second position in WIPO’s rating.

This number, however, does not show the PCT activities of the patent firms in isolation and rather aggregates the international applications filed by both the corporate IP departments and representatives. In this respect, IP Pilot decided to take a step further and analyze American law firms’ PCT activities.

As a result, the table below represents the list of the 50 largest US IP law firms filing for PCT in 2020.

The strength of local business in the United States is quite apparent. According to Bloomberg’s index of the Most Innovative Nations, the US was always among the upper ten innovative countries in the world since the index first appeared in 2013. Simultaneously, the US represents a hot spot for foreign applicants seeking protection of their inventions.

This gives the American IP law firms significant leverage and a certain freedom to decide whether to focus on domestic or international business development strategy, meaning that both directions are rather profitable.

Therefore, the volume of represented PCTs does not indicate the representatives’ overall strength or prominence but rather outlines their general strategy.

Unsurprisingly, some of the largest US patent firms are at the top of the list.

For example, according to Patent-Pilot’s data, FISH & RICHARDSON, KILPATRICK TOWNSEND & STOCKTON LLP, and FOLEY & LARDNER LLP are the leading three firms representing American PCTs as well as the most prominent agents in the country.

On the contrary, OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT, LLP, while being the second-largest firm in the US, held only position number 43 in the PCT rank. The reason is that the representative has a strong international business orientation. To illustrate, OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT, LLP prosecuted cases for well-established Japanese clients, namely Toshiba, Toyota, and Mitsubishi.

Along the same lines, SUGHRUE MION, PLLC – the 3rd largest IP law firm – also prioritized the international applicants such as Samsung, Toyota, Fujifilm, and NEC and was even not among the 50 firms outlined in the list above.

Conversely, WILSON SONSINI GOODRICH & ROSATI – 22nd in the country – represented a substantial amount of PCTs and got to the 5th position in the rank of the most prominent American firms filing for PCTs 2020. The review of the firm’s portfolio showed its high focus on domestic clients.

Overall, the United States is an active innovator and an attractive spot for incoming foreign patent applications. This gives American representatives freedom to decide which business development approach to prioritize. Therefore, the number of represented PCTs is not associated with the firm’s prominence but rather with internal strategic considerations or historical dynamics. This differentiates the US from most of the European top PCT representatives, for which the prominence of the firm is associated with the volume of prosecuted PCT filings (except for Germany). For more details, read the article about the top 50 European IP law firms filing for PCT in 2020.

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