China number two in international patent applications

China moved into second position as a source of international patent applications filed via the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2017, closing in on long-time leader United States in another record year in the use of WIPO’s intellectual property services for patents, trademarks and industrial designs.

WIPO said in a report that two Chinese technology companies were the top filers of international patent applications in 2017, with Huawei at number one and ZTE at number two — followed by Intel, Mitsubishi and Qualcomm.

Overall, inventors from around the world filed 243,500 international patent applications via WIPO, 4.5% more than the previous year.

Japan posted strong growth in 2017 but was edged out of the second position by China, which at current trends is projected to overtake the US within three years as the largest source of applications filed under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

US-based applicants filed 56,624 PCT applications, followed by applicants from China (48,882) and Japan (48,208). Germany and the Republic of Korea ranked fourth and fifth, with 18,982 and 15,763 applications respectively.

“This rapid rise in Chinese use of the international patent system shows that innovators there are increasingly looking outward, seeking to spread their original ideas into new markets as the Chinese economy continues its rapid transformation,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

“This is part of a larger shift in the geography of innovation, with half of all international patent applications now originating in East Asia.”