GENEVA (AFP) - Global patent filings hit record highs last year, with China leading the charge, receiving more patent applications than the United States, Japan, South Korea and the EU combined, the UN said Wednesday (Dec 6).
Some 3.1 million patent applications were filed worldwide last year, rising for the seventh straight year and marking an 8.3-per cent hike from 2015, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) said.
"These numbers are really quite extraordinary," Wipo chief Francis Gurry told reporters in Geneva.
China received about 236,600 of the nearly 240,600 additional patent filings, accounting for a full 98 per cent of the growth, the UN agency said.
"The latest figures charting a rise in demand for intellectual property rights confirm a decade-long trend, where developments in China increasingly leave their mark on the worldwide totals," Gurry said.
"China is increasingly amongst the leaders in global innovation and branding." Overall, China's State Intellectual Property Office received a record total of 1.3 million patent applications last year.
In second place, the US Patent and Trademark Office trailed far behind at 605,571, followed by Japan with 318,381.
When it comes to patent filings abroad meanwhile, US residents clearly topped the list, filing 215,918 applications in other countries, followed by Japan, Germany and South Korea.
US foreign filings were more than four times as many as the 51,522 filed by Chinese citizens abroad, Wipo said.
"This is just a reflection I think of the stage of growth of the Chinese economy and its orientation," Gurry said, telling AFP he expected the numbers of Chinese foreign filings to explode going forward and continue to push up global patent applications.
China was also behind ballooning numbers of global trademark and industrial design applications last year, Wipo found.
Trademark filings swelled 16.4 per cent from the year before to around seven million, and have increased three-fold since 2001, "reflecting the importance of protecting branding assets in today's business environment", Gurry said.
With 3.7 million registrations, China accounted for more than half of last year's trademark filings.
Industrial design applications meanwhile grew by 10.4 per cent last year to nearly one million applications, containing 1.2 million designs - more than half of which were listed in China.