BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2019/13

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which operates under the auspices of the UN, reports that a total of 253,000 international patent application covered by the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) were filed last year, an increase of 4 % from 2017. Even with a minor decline, the number of PCT patent applications from the US was the highest, accounting for just over 22 % of total PCT applications. The number of Chinese PCT patent applications rose by 9 % last year to a total share of 21 %.

Asia’s push on the innovation and patent front was bolstered by number-three Japan (20 % of all patent applications) and fifth-place South Korea (7 % share). They bracket number-four Germany with its 8 % share. Six of the top 10 PCT patent application countries were located in Western Europe. For the first time, Asian countries accounted for half of all applications, while Europe represented just over 24 % and North America 23 %.

Asia’s push into the technology frontier was also evidenced in the rankings of firms filing the most PCT patent applications. The Chinese Huawei topped the global list with over 5,400 patent applications last year. Next was the Japanese Mitsubishi Electric with about 2,800 applications. The number 3 and 4 spots went to the American Intel and Qualcomm, respectively. The top 10 also included two other Chinese firms, two Korean firms, a Swedish firm and a German firm.

BRIC countries other than China are far less active in their patent application activity. Although the number of patents submitted from India increased by 27 %, it still represented only about 2,000 applications, which is less than 1 % of all applications. Russians submitted less than 1,000 patent applications, while Brazilians had just over 600 applications.
The number of PCT patent applications from Finland rose by 15 % last year to just over 1,800, putting Finland 15th in the rankings just after India and Israel.

PCT patent applications in leading countries

Source: WIPO.