Tech patents reach record high

image captionThe cost of filing a patent in the UK starts at £230 ($361).

Last year 14,205 patent applications for computer-related products and technologies were filed, says legal information provider Sweet and Maxwell.

In 2011 that figure was 11,974, showing an increase of 19% in 2012.

The cost of filing a patent varies from country to country, but prices start at £230 ($361) in the UK.

Graphene had been a particularly popular patent subject in 2012, said intellectual property lawyer Gwylim Roberts.

It is an ultra-thin carbon layer that can be used to make flexible screens.

"The potential for graphene in the next generation of devices is huge," Mr Roberts told the BBC.

"Across the board, the patenting of it is increasing."

The high-profile patent wars between tech giants such as Apple and Samsung, Google and Microsoft, may have contributed to the increase in filings, Mr Roberts believes.

"Everybody in the hi-tech industry is picking up their patenting, but we are also seeing that litigation is slowing people down," he said.

"We didn't see litigation for a long time and suddenly it began. I personally think it might be peaking at the moment - it's now starting to get in the way of business objectives."

Patents gave their owners "exclusivity" over their ideas but could also enable greater cooperation with others, he added.

"The reason mobile devices by different manufacturers and networks can talk to each other is because of enormous co-operations - and they were made possible by patents," he said.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, refused to patent his creation. He said all he had done was to bring existing elements together.

Last year he spoke out in a Texas courtroom against a patent claim brought by a company called Eolas regarding interactivity on the internet.

When asked by the judge who he believed owned the web, Sir Tim replied: "We do."

More on this story

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.