China / Society

China files one-third of patent claims

By Agence France-Presse in Geneva (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-18 08:12

Country shifts from manufacturing to a knowledge-based economy

China was responsible for one-third of the world's patent applications last year, once again driving strong global growth despite stalling innovation in Europe and Japan, the World Intellectual Property Organization said on Tuesday.

New figures confirm that "strategically, the country ... is on a journey from 'made in China' to 'created in China', away from manufacturing to more knowledge-intensive industries", said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

About 2.57 million patents were filed last year, an increase of 9 percent over 2012 figures. China led the way, followed by the United States and Japan.

Applications from China grew by 26.4 percent, increasing its global share from almost 28 percent to 32.1 percent in a year, while US applications grew by 5.3 percent.

In contrast, Japan saw a decline of 4.2 percent and Europe a fall of 0.4 percent, reflecting their relatively weak economic growth.

Across the world, "global intellectual property filing trends mirror the broader economic picture", Gurry said. "The diverging performance of the world economy appears to be leaving its mark on the global innovation landscape."

Computer technology remains the fastest-growing field and now represents 7.6 percent of the total patents filed. The other most popular fields are electrical machinery (7.2 percent of applications) followed by measurement (4.7 percent), digital communications (4.5 percent) and medical technology (4.3 percent).

The figures from WIPO, an agency of the United Nations, also revealed countries' specialties - Switzerland filed mainly pharmaceutical patents, for example, while in Russia most were to do with food chemistry.

France and Germany filed mainly transport-related patents, while China, South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom filed mainly computer technology patents, according to the latest data available from 2012.

Meanwhile, there has been a near quadrupling of applications in energy-related technology, such as solar, fuel cell, wind and geothermal energy, in the past decade.

While it lags behind China in the number of patent applications, the US remains the world leader in terms of patents in force, with 26 percent of the 9.45 million total, followed by Japan and China.

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