China outpaces Japan, US on patent filings

2011-12-21 08:14

Hong Kong - China became the world’s top patent filer in 2011, surpassing the United States and Japan as it steps up innovation to improve its intellectual property rights track record, a Thomson Reuters research report showed on Wednesday.

The report said the world’s second-largest economy aimed to transform from a “made in China” to a “designed in China” market, with the government pushing for innovation in sectors such as automobiles, pharmaceuticals and technology.

It said published patent applications from China were expected to total nearly 500 000 in 2015, following by the United States with close to 400 000 and Japan with almost 300 000.

Published applications from China’s patent office have risen by an average of 16.7% annually from 171 000 in 2006 to nearly 314 000 in 2010, data from Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index showed.

During the period, Japan had the highest volume, followed by the United States, China, Korea and Europe, the report said. It did not give figures for 2011.

“The striking difference among these regions is China - it is experiencing the most rapid growth and is poised to lead the pack in the very near future,” it said.

Of total patents filed in China, the percentage of domestic applications rose to nearly 73% in 2010 from less than 52% in 2006, indicating that Chinese companies have outpaced foreign entities in the patent boom.

In terms of patents overseas, Chinese companies have also been climbing in the rankings, according to data from the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).

In 2010, China’s No 2 telecommunications equipment maker ZTE was second on the list of applicants, ranking just behind Japan’s Panasonic.

US chip maker Qualcomm came in third, while China’s Huawei Technologies the world’s second-largest telecom gear maker, was fourth, according to WIPO.

  • Peter - 2011-12-21 13:00

    Of course its about the numbers...china has the largest population....but if u count patent filed per head then the leading country is South Korea then Japan. China is just starting to work on its innovation arm but its still a very long way before they catch up. Filing a patent does not necessarily mean its a smarter innovation and a new idea...i can steal a patent filed in the US and twist it a bit then file it in China successfully.The point is patent filling is very ambiguous and easily abused and the whole system needs to be overhauled .Only 10% of the patents filed deserve to be patented because of their high end value the rest don't need patents so the system altogether need change.

      JeremyKarsen - 2011-12-21 14:40

      Well said. It would be interesting which fields were seeing the most patenting in China. I doubt its high end communication/military technology. What say you?

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