Companies and individuals in China filed 53,345 patent applications with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2018, up 9.1% year-on-year and ranking second for the second time, closely following United States-based inventors, who filed 56,142 applications, down 0.9% year-on-year, the United Nations specialized agency announced on Tuesday.
WIPO added that it expects the number of applications from China to surpass those from the US in the next two years.
China’s Asian neighbours also saw strong growth last year. Japan ranked third with 49,702 applications, up from 48,208 in 2017. South Korea ranked fifth, with 17,014 applications, up from 15,763 in 2017. India-based inventors filed 2,013 applications in 2018, growing 27.2% year-on-year, making the country the fasting-growing among the top 15 origins of international patent applications.
“Asia is now the majority filer of international patent applications via WIPO, which is an important milestone for that economically dynamic region and underscores the historical geographical shift of innovative activity from West to East,” said WIPO director general Francis Gurry.
Telecommunication and smartphone conglomerate Huawei Technologies, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, was the top corporate filer in 2018, with a record number of 5,405 applications, up from 4,024 applications in 2017.
Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric followed with 2,812 applications in 2018. US-based Intel ranked third, with 2,499 applications, and Qualcomm ranked fourth with 2,404 applications. Another Shenzhen-headquartered telecom company ZTE ranked fifth with 2,080 applications.