HOME > NEWS & EVENTS > China Leads the Way in Innovation As IP Filings Continue to Rise
China Leads the Way in Innovation As IP Filings Continue to Rise

Asia is emerging as a dynamic innovation center worldwide with China as a major driving force behind the growth, according to the latest World Intellectual Property Indicators report.

The annual WIPI report released by the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva on Wednesday shows that more than two-thirds of all applications for patents, trademarks and industrial designs filed last year was from Asia.

"Asia continues to outpace other regions in filing activity for patents, trademarks, industrial designs and other intellectual property rights that are at the center of the global economy," WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said.

"China alone accounted for almost half of all the world's patent filings, with India also registering impressive increases," he said.

The total number of patent filings worldwide reached 3.3 million in 2018, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier, marking the ninth straight annual rise, according to the report.

Asia has reinforced its position as the largest destination of patent filings, as it received approximately two-thirds of all applications worldwide last year, a considerable growth from 50.8 percent a decade ago. The boost is primarily driven by China's growth.

China's National Intellectual Property Administration received a record 1.54 million applications, accounting for 46.4 percent of the world's total.

The number is equivalent to the combined total of IP offices filings from the second through 11th ranked countries.

Following China, the United States ranked second with nearly 600,000 filings and Japan, third with 313,567 applications.

On the 2018 global patent application chart by country and region, South Korea took fourth position with roughly 210,000 filings, and Europe finished in fifth place with the European Patent Office receiving 174,397 applications.

Together, the top five offices contributed 85.3 percent of the global total.

Of them, China was the only one that registered double-digit growth, while the US and Japan saw slight declines. For the US, it was its first drop in patent filings since 2009.

However, in terms of filing abroad, an indication of a desire to expand in foreign markets, the US retained its top position with 230,085 applications, followed by Japan (206,739), Germany (106,753), South Korea (69,459) and China (66,429).

Patents across the world grew 6.7 percent to 14 million in 2018. Of them, about 3.1 million valid patents were in the US, followed by China (2.4 million) and Japan (2.1 million).

Half of the valid patents in the US originate from abroad, while in China, domestic applicants contributed around 70 percent of all patents in force.

When it comes to trademarks, global filings increased to 14.3 million, marking an increase for a ninth consecutive year, according to the report.

China continued to lead in trademark applications worldwide, with the US, Japan, Europe and Iran taking the remaining four places among the top five.

There were an estimated 49.3 million active trademark registrations worldwide in 2018 - up 13.8 percent on 2017, with 19.6 million in China alone, followed by 2.4 million in the US, and 1.9 million in India.

As an IP powerhouse, China also claimed the crown in terms of applications for industrial designs and new plant varieties, representing more than a half and over a quarter of the world's total respectively.

The country ranked second by number of valid geographical indications last year, after Germany.

GIs are signs used on products that have specific geographical origins and possess qualities or a reputation that belongs to that origin.

More than half of the world's total valid GIs in 2018 were related to wines and spirits, followed by agricultural products and foodstuffs, which accounted for nearly 30 percent. The third-largest section of GI-marked products was handicrafts.