12 December 2012

China Tops Global Patent Filings, Global IP Filings Grew 7.8% in 2011

- Companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions 
- China received 526,412 applications compared to 503,582 for the US 
- Residents of Japan filed largest number of applications (472,417) 

Geneva - 11 December 2012 - A new WIPO report shows that while the global economy continued to underperform, intellectual property (IP) filings worldwide kept growing strongly in 2011. It also finds that China’s patent office became the largest in the world, as measured by the number of patent applications received. Before 2011, China already accounted for most filings of utility models (UMs), trademarks and industrial designs. 

World Intellectual Property Indicators 2012 shows that patent filings worldwide grew by 7.8% in 2011, exceeding 7% growth for the second year in a row. Similarly, UM, 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,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. 

China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) overtook the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2011 to become the largest patent office in the world, after having surpassed the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in 2010. In the 100 years before 2011, only three patent offices – Germany, Japan and the United States - had occupied the position of largest office

For the first time in 2011, the total number of patent applications filed worldwide exceeded the 2 million mark. The 2.14 million applications filed consisted of 1.36 million resident and 0.78 million non-resident applications. Following a drop of 3.6% in 2009, patent applications rebounded strongly in 2010 with growth of 7.5% and with 7.8% growth in 2011. 

In 2011, China received 526,412 applications compared to 503,582 for the US and 342,610 for Japan. The growth in patent filings in China was mostly due to sharp growth in resident filings. Between 2009 and 2011, patent filings worldwide increased by 293,900. SIPO accounted for 72% of this increase. 

The majority of the top 20 offices saw growth in patent fillings in 2011, with China (34.6%), China Hong Kong (SAR, 15.3%) and South Africa (13.5%) seeing double-digit growth. Filing behavior at offices of middle- and low-income countries show mixed trends. The offices of Algeria (11.3%), Madagascar (41.9%) and Saudi Arabia (6.3%) saw considerable growth in 2011, mainly due to growth in non-resident filings. In contrast, Guatemala (-13.1%), Jamaica (-27.6%) and Jordan (-15.6%) saw substantial filing declines.

Data by applicants’ country of origin show that residents of Japan filed the largest number of applications (472,417) across the world in 2011. China, which saw 41.3% growth in 2011, overtook the US to become the second largest country for origin counts. 

The field of digital communication saw the highest average annual growth rate (+8.1%) between 2006 and 2010. Filings for pharmaceuticals have continuously declined since 2007. Computer technology accounted for the largest number of applications (126,897) filed worldwide. 

In 2011, the estimated number of patents granted approached the 1 million mark, with 606,800 issued to residents and 390,000 to non-residents. Grants worldwide grew by 9.7% in 2011. The JPO (with 238,323) granted the largest number of patents, followed by the USPTO (224,505).