WIPO: The patent race continues, China still in the lead

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), reported that global intellectual property filing activity reached new heights in 2021 for patents. China continues to lead the race with 11,195 applications in 2021, or 44% of the global total.

This activity concerns patents, trademarks and designs, thus testifying to the resilience of the global innovation ecosystem during the Covid-19 pandemic, underlined the UN institution based in Geneva.

Worldwide, innovators filed some 3.4 million patent applications in 2021, up 3.6% from the previous year, with offices in Asia receiving 67.6% of the all global demands. Regarding trademarks, 18.1 million applications were registered globally, an increase of 5.5% compared to 2020.

According to WIPO, industrial design filing activity increased by 9.2%. The largest increase in the number of designs was also attributable to offices located in Asia.

China by far in the lead

For WIPO Director General, Daren Tang, “the latest data on intellectual property worldwide show a continuous and sustained growth in the filing of applications for intellectual property titles, largely fueled by the increases observed in Asia, while other regions are also registering an upward trend.”

More generally, the report found a notable increase in patent filings in China, coupled with strong contributions from the Intellectual Property Office of the Republic of Korea and the European Patent Office. Offices were the main drivers of global growth in 2021, WIPO notes.

In 2021, the China Intellectual Property Office received 1.59 million patent applications out of the 3.4 million filed globally. This is a figure equivalent to the combined total of the other 12 highest ranked offices, from second to thirteenth.

This is followed by the United States of America (591,473), Japan (289,200), the Republic of Korea (237,998) and the European Patent Office (188,778). Together, these five offices accounted for approximately 85% of the global total.

China, 1st legal jurisdiction in terms of number of patents in force

Offices located in Asia received two-thirds (67%) of all applications filed worldwide in 2021 – a notable increase from 2011 (54%) – mainly due to long-term growth in China.

Patents in force worldwide increased by 4.2% to around 16.5 million in 2021. China saw the fastest growth in patents in force in 2021 (+17.6%) .

Beijing has also overtaken the United States to become the first legal jurisdiction in terms of the number of patents in force in 2021, with 3.6 million. China was followed by the United States of America (3.3 million) and Japan (2 million).

Regarding trademarks, research and technology was the main sector in which applicants sought trademark protection abroad in 2021, accounting for 20% of the total number of 13.9 million trademark applications. Here too, the China Intellectual Property Office recorded the highest filing activity, with a class count of around 9.5 million.

Beijing also tops for brands and number of designs

This is followed by the United States Intellectual Property Office (899,678), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (497,542) and India (488,526) and the United Kingdom ( 450,815). Offices located in Asia accounted for 69.7% of all trademark filing activity in 2021, up from 44.7% in 2011.

On another note, the number of designs increased by 9.2% in 2021. The China Intellectual Property Office received applications containing 805,710 designs in 2021, more than half of the total. worldwide (53%).

In addition, more than 25,000 plant variety protection applications were filed worldwide in 2021, an increase of 12% compared to 2020.

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