US leads WIPO filings, but China catching up fast

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said China’s ZTE Corporation overtook its Shenzen telecoms crosstown rival Huawei Technologies as the biggest filer of international patent applications via WIPO in 2016.

WIPO said US-based Qualcomm took third position in “another year of strong demand” for its intellectual property filing services for patents, trademarks and industrial designs.

WIPO is a self-funding agency of the United Nations.

WIPO said that overall, applicants based in the United States maintained their number one ranking for the 39th year running, making up 24.3% of 233,000 applications filed under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in 2016 — itself a 7.3% increase.

Japan made 19.4% of applications and China 18.5%, with China “driving the overall growth in demand,” said WIPO.

If the current trend continues, China will overtake the US within two years as the largest user of the PCT System, WIPO said.

Digital communications and computer technology displayed the greatest activity by sector.

WIPO said demand grew 7.2 % in 2016 for its international trademark filing service (Madrid System), which saw 52,550 applications, while the number of industrial designs handled by WIPO’s Hague System rose 13.9% to 18,716.

WIPO said 2016 was the seventh year in a row of growth in all three of its filing systems.

“In an interlinked, knowledge-based global economy, creators and innovators  are increasingly relying on intellectual property to promote and protect their competitive edge around the world,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry.

“China-based filers are behind much of the growth in international patent and trademark filings, making great strides in internationalizing their businesses as the country continues its journey from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’.”

WIPO said that in 2016, US-based applicants filed 56,595 PCT applications, followed by 45,239 from Japan and 43,168 from China, which has posted double-digit growth each year since 2002.

“If this current trend continues, China will overtake the US within two years as the largest user of the PCT System,” said WIPO.

Germany and the Republic of Korea with 18,315 and 15,560 applications were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

Asia accounted for 47.4% of 2016 PCT applications, just short of the combined share of Europe at 25.6% and North America at 25.3%.

“China recorded extraordinary growth (+44.7%), while Italy (+9.3%), Israel (+9.1%), India (+8.3%) and the Netherlands (+8%) also saw strong growth rates,” said WIPO.

“In contrast, Canada (-17.3%) — for the second consecutive year — saw a substantial decline in filings, linked to declining applications from RIM/Blackberry and Nortel.”

Shenzhen-based telecoms companies ZTE Corporation, with 4,123 published PCT applications, and Huawei Technologies with 3,692, occupied the top two spots on the list of top PCT applicants.

They were followed by Qualcomm of the US with 2,466, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan with 2,053, and LG Electronics of the Republic of Korea with 1,888.

Among educational institutions, the University of California, with 434 published PCT applications, was the largest user of the PCT system and has maintained that position since 1993.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology was ranked second with 236, followed by Harvard University with 162 and Johns Hopkins University with 158.

Digital communication (8.5%) accounted for the largest share of published PCT applications, followed by computer technology (8.2%), electrical machinery (6.9%) and medical technology (6.8%).

In trademarks, US applicants filed the largest number of international trademark applications (7,741) using WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks in 2016, followed by Germany (7,551), France (4,132), China (3,200) and Switzerland (3,074).

L’Oréal of France, with 150 applications, headed the list of top trademark filers, followed by Glaxo Group of the UK (141), and Germany’s BMW (117) and Lidl (112).