According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, 2007 saw a record number of international patent applications, a total of 156,100. South Korea ranked fourth in the world, behind the United States, Japan and Germany, as shown in the accompanying graphic (click to enlarge). Korea and China were the leading sources of patent filings in Northeast Asia and their rate of growth in patent applications from 2006 to 2007 was much higher than other countries around the world. “The growth in patent filings by a number of countries in north east Asia and their share of overall patenting activity is impressive and confirms shifting patterns of innovation around the world,” said Dr. Kamil Idris, Director General of WIPO. He further noted that “Strategic use of the patent system is a business imperative in today’s knowledge-driven economy. The success of the PCT is largely due to the sustained use of the system by some of the world’s foremost innovation-based companies.” The largest proportion of these applications published in 2007 related to the telecommunications (10.5%), information technology (10.1%) and pharmaceuticals (9.3%) sectors. The fastest growing technology areas are nuclear engineering (24.5% increase) and telecommunications (15.5%). The list of the world's top fifty organizations applying for patents included LG Electronics (13th) and Samsung Electronics (20th), LG Chemical (36th) and the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) (41st).