Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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Chinese Inventors Top World Patent Applications in 2015, but only 4% are Filed Outside China


(Photo : WIPO) WIPO.

Inventors based in China filed 1,010,406 invention patent applications in 2015 (or 38 percent of the total 2.9 million filed worldwide), but only a minuscule 42,154 applications, or four percent, were filed outside China.

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This massive disparity that focused on the home market indicates most of these Chinese patent applications won't pass muster in the tougher patent environment in Western countries, according to some analysts.

And the majority of these patent applications were filed by companies involved in telecoms, computing, and semiconductors. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, the world's largest equipment maker, and ZTE Corporation, a multinational telecommunications equipment and systems company, filed the most number of applications from a single source.

Despite these disturbing facts, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) said the Chinese total of over one million was "extraordinary."

A total of 2.9 million invention patent applications were filed worldwide in 2015, said WIPO, a 7.8 percent increase over 2014. The world total included both filings from residents of China and those from overseas who filed in China.

WIPO said China's 1.0 million total was more than that of Japan, South Korea and the United States. It said this was the first time applicants from a single origin filed more than one million in a single year.

In contrast to China-based inventors that overwhelming filed local, U.S.-based inventors filed more than 200,000 applications abroad. Patent applications abroad from Japan, Germany and France were each larger than those from China.

"There is clearly a discussion out there as to what is the quality of Chinese patents," said Carsten Fink, WIPO's chief economist.

He also said that if one looks at China's patent filings per head of population, "there are still fewer patents being filed there than in the United States."

Another patent expert not identified but quoted believes the disparity between Chinese inventors' local and international filings reflected the fact not all Chinese applications will stand up to scrutiny outside China.

In total, the number of patents last year grew 5.2 percent to 1.0 million. Trademark applications jumped 15.3 percent to nearly six million, and industrial design applications rose 2.3 percent to 872,000.

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