New Figures from WIPO: China Surpasses the US Regarding Patent Applications

Published 19-04-2020

According to a new report from World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, China has become one of the top sources of international patent applications. This is the first time China files the largest number of applications to WIPO, and the first time the US is not in the lead. Telecommunications company Huawei accounts for a large part of the applications from China.

With an increase of 5.2 per cent, 265,800 patent applications were filed to World Intellectual Property Organization in 2019. China filed 58,990 applications, whereas the US filed 57,840 applications. This is the first time since 1978, where WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty System (PCT) was agreed that the US has not filed the most applications.

“China’s rapid growth to become the top filer of international patent applications via WIPO underlines a long-term shift in the locus of innovation towards the East, with Asia-based applicants now accounting for more than half of all PCT applications,” says WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

In 1999, WIPO only received 276 applications from China. Hence, in just 20 years, the number of applications from China has grown massively to 58,990 patent applications in 2019.

"Intellectual property rights are increasingly at the heart of global competition. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that innovation is not a zero-sum game – that a net increase in global innovation means new drugs, communications technologies, solutions for global challenges that benefit everyone, wherever they live,” says Mr. Gurry.

One of China’s largest applicants was the telecommunications company Huawei, who filed 4,411 applications in 2019. On the list of companies with most applications in 2019, Japanese Mitsubishi came second with 2,661 patent applications.


Top applicants in 2019

1. Huawei (4,411)
2. Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan (2,661)
3. Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea (2,334)
4. Qualcomm Inc. of the U.S. (2,127)
5. Guang Dong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications of China (1,927)

Source: World Intellectual Property Organization

In 2019, the European Patent Office also experienced a large growth in applications from Huawei. With more than 3,000 applications, the Chinese telecommunications company was the company, who filed most patent applications in Europe in 2019. 

Read more here about the new numbers from World Intellectual Property Organization