20 March 2019

Asia patent applications reveal innovation shift

WIPO reveals innovators file record number of international patent applications, with Asia leading the way in West to East innovation shift.

Frank Gurry in WIPO press conference Shutterstock

A WIPO 2018 IP services report reveals Asia-based innovators filed more than half of all international patent applications via WIPO for the first time in 2018, with significant growth from China, India and the Republic of Korea. The results cap another record-setting year for WIPO’s global IP services.

West to East shift

WIPO director general, Francis Gurry said ‘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.’ WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) passed a record-breaking quarter-million (253,000) filing mark in 2018, a 3.9 per cent increase over 2017, while WIPO’s Madrid System saw 61,200 international trademark applications, a 6.4 per cent increase. WIPO’s Hague System for industrial designs saw 3.7 per cent growth in 2018, reaching 5,404 applications. US-based inventors filed the greatest number of PCT patent applications in 2018, trailed closely by China, which is expected to surpass the U.S. within the next two years on current trends. Mr Gurry explained, ‘intellectual property is a critical competitive element in the modern global economy, with everyone ultimately benefiting from this race to create and innovate that results in new products that transform our world and the way people live everywhere.’

Huawei tops list

The top 10 applicant list in 2018 comprises six companies from Asia, two from Europe and two from the US. Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies was the top corporate filer of international patent applications in 2018. Huawei was followed by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan (2,812), Intel Corp. of the U.S. (2,499), Qualcomm Inc. of the U.S. (2,404) and ZTE Corp. of China (2,080). ZTE was the top applicant in 2016, but saw a 29.8 percent drop in the number of published PCT filings in 2018, its second straight year of declines. The statistics showed that 50.5 percent of all Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications filed in 2018 came from Asia, with Europe and North America accounting for about a quarter each. US-based applicants filed 56,142 PCT applications, followed by applicants from China, 53,345, and Japan, 49,702. Germany and the Republic of Korea ranked fourth and fifth.

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