Chinese patent filings top world in 2021 amid innovation drive

A recent report showed that China has achieved the first place in terms of global patent filings in 2021, well ahead of all other countries, highlighting its strong drive in building an innovation-oriented nation.

China’s Intellectual Property (IP) Office received 1.59 million of the total 3.4 million patent applications filed worldwide in 2021, according to the World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report released this week.

Patents filed in China were similar in size to the combined total of the next 12 countries ranked second through 13th, according to the WIPI, which compiled its latest data based on information provided by about 150 countries and regions.

In 2021, high-value invention patents in China totaled 7.5 per 10,000 people, 1.2 more than in 2020, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics released in August 2022.

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The country’s innovation in sectors such as next-generation telecom, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing and clean energy is particularly notable.

China’s view of the global pie

A report published by the National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA) in 2021 revealed that China’s 6G technology patent filings accounted for more than 30% of the world’s total, while China’s AI patent applications accounted for about 70% of the world’s total, According to an indicator published in November by the China Information Industry Development Center.

Patent applications by Chinese companies in quantum computing, a frontier technology sector, jumped from 137 in September 2020 to 804 by October 2022, according to the Global Patent List of Quantum Computing Technology.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report in March 2022 titled “Tracking Clean Energy Innovation: Focus on China” which indicated that China has become a key player in energy patents within a short period of time, especially in strategic sectors where Chinese inventors are considered. For a growing share from global operations, including solar photovoltaic (PV), electric vehicle (EV) and lighting technologies.

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In the 2018/2019 period, Chinese inventors filed about six times the number of international patents they filed in 2008/2009 for solar PV and batteries, and eight times the number of international patents they filed according to the IEA.

In addition, about 80 percent of Chinese patents in energy-related climate change mitigation technologies are protected abroad, indicating their improved quality.

The fastest growth rate

The WIPI report also showed that China saw a 17.6 percent annual growth in patents in force in 2021, the fastest growth in the world, surpassing the US to become the top in terms of net growth of enforceable patents.

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By the end of September 2022, China’s valid patents exceeded 4 million and more than a third of them stemmed from strategic emerging industries, according to the NIPA.

Among them, those owned by the private sector in the country have grown significantly.

China’s top 500 private companies in 2022 saw annual growth of 53.6 percent in terms of valid patents, according to data released by the All China Federation of Industry and Commerce in September.

China has also seen significant growth in industrial design. It received applications containing 805,710 designs in 2021, corresponding to more than 53 percent of the global total. China now holds the most valid industrial design registrations worldwide.

(with input from Xinhua)

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