Innovators file record number of patent applications in China

China's appetite for patents leads the world. 

  • Ivy Shih

Innovators file record number of patent applications in China

24 November 2016

Ivy Shih

LOOK Die Bildagentur der Fotografen GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

China has become the first country to receive more than a million patent applications in a single year.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a United Nations agency set up to promote protection of intellectual property, has released its report on global trends in intellectual property activity based on 2015 applications.

For the sixth consecutive year, patent, trademarks and industrial design applications increased in all jurisdictions in 2015. Almost 2.9 million (2,888,800) patents applications were filed worldwide, a 7.8% increase from 2014. Of the total number of applications filed last year, around 1.24 million patents were granted.

Breakthroughs in computer technology dominated applications (7.9%), followed by electrical machinery (7.3%) and digital communication (4.9%).

China has been the main engine driving growth. Its innovators filed more than a million applications (1,010,406), ahead of the United States (526,296). Japan saw a 2.2% decrease in patent filings, with only 454,285 applications lodged.

China also dominated trademark applications, representing more than a third of the total 6 million trademark applications filed globally in 2015.

China’s staggering intellectual property investment complements the country’s growth in scientific research.

Nature Index figures from 2015 place China second behind the United States for output of high-quality research (Read: US tops global research performance). Articles published by Chinese researchers have grown by 14% each year since 2012. This equates to an additional 3000 articles published by Chinese researchers every year.

Between 2012 and 2015, Chinese scientists’ share of authorships on papers included in the index has grown at an annual rate of 13%.