China Tops U.S. For First Time in Number of Patent Applications

China received the most patent applications in the world, according to a new report by the World Intellectual Patent Organization (WIPO). The China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) took the top spot from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). China received 526,412 applications compared to 503,582 for the U.S. and 342,610 for Japan.

Worldwide, patent filings worldwide grew by 7.8% in 2011, exceeding 7% growth for the second year in a row. In addition, utility models, industrial design, and trademark filings increased by 35%, 16% and 13.3%, respectively.

“Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions. This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future,” WIPO director general Francis Gurry stated at a press conference.

Below are several additional statistics of note provided by the WIPO:

  • The majority of the top 20 offices saw growth in patent filings in 2011 with China (34.6%), China Hong Kong (SAR, 15.3%) and South Africa (13.5%) seeing double-digit growth.
  • Patent applications for four energy-related technologies – fuel cells, geothermal, solar and wind energy – increased by 8% in 2010 to 34,873. Residents of Japan filed the largest number of applications relating to solar energy and fuel cell technologies, while residents of Germany and the US accounted for the largest numbers of applications relating to geothermal and
  • wind energy, respectively.
  • A record 4.2 million trademark applications were filed worldwide in 2011. Around 6.2 million classes were specified in these applications. Of the 6.2 million application class counts, residents accounted for 4.5 million and non-residents for 1.7 million.
  • Applications grew by 13.3% in 2011, while application class counts saw a 9.6% increase. Rapid growth in filings in China has been the main contributor to growth in recent years. In 2011, China accounted for 61.8% of growth worldwide.
  • Industrial design applications worldwide grew strongly over the last two years. In 2011, design filings increased by 16%, following 13.9% growth in 2010. This considerable growth was mostly due to strong growth in China. SIPO accounted for 90% of total growth from 2009 to 2011.

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