MSC Intellectual Property & Technology Law
For the first time in forty one years, a non-western country has surpassed the United States in global patent applications. Patents provide exclusive rights to owners to make, use, sell, license or otherwise engage with their inventions. This privilege exclude others from engaging with the patent without the authorization of the rights holder (except in COVID-19 emergency situations such as now). Patent activity is one of the most common ways of measuring innovation growth in economies.
China filed the most patent applications in 2019, surpassing the United States and Japan, who followed close behind in filing activities. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently published this information in its report on global IP filing statistics for 2019. Canada is at 12th position in the world, with 2711 international patent filings in 2019 (an increase over the previous year). China filed 58,990 applications, the United States filed 57,840 and Japan filed 52,660 applications.
Why this information matters? As other WIPO reports have shown, this trend, along with overall IP trajectories, indicate that high IP activity and record innovation, is shifting from western countries to Asian jurisdictions. You can also gather insight into patent trends from a country’s filing activities. A closer look at the statistics indicate that China’s technology sector is an active participant in the global IP system. Four of the top ten patent applicants in 2019 were Chinese technology based companies, with Huawei filing the most applications (4411).
This is the first that so many global patents have been filed by a single country in one year (by using the international patent filing system). Each year, for more than forty years, (since 1978), the United States held the record for top country filing activity.
Other notable mentions
University research projects are especially beneficial when it is of use to industries and sectors in the economy. Universities often invent or create innovative products or service angles that have significant benefits to different consumer markets. Five universities from the United States, four from China and one from South Korea had the most patent filings among university institutions. The University of California topped the list in 2019.
This post is for general information only, and is not meant to be legal advise.