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China widens the innovation gap

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International patent applications through WIPO continued to grow over the past year. China, which overtook the United States last year, retains its place as a leader in this area.

International patent applications filed through the WIPO Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) are one of the key indicators for measuring the various activities related to innovation. And again last year, this industry was not idle, setting a new record. According to a new UN report, 275,900 international patents were in fact filed in 2020. This is about 4% more than the previous year. “Innovation remains resilient“Said PMOI chief Daren Tang.

China in the lead, France fifth

On this sample, China remains in the lead. In the main category, the Patent Cooperation Treaty or PCT, the Middle Kingdom has filed 68,720 deposits (+ 16% compared to 2019), ahead of the United States with its 59,230 deposits (+ 3%). For your information, China had passed the United States in 2019 with only a thousand deposits in advance. In other words, China remains in the lead, but also widens the gap on its direct competitor.

After the United States come Japan, South Korea and Germany. France comes in fifth position with 7,904 patents filed.

The UN also underlines the rise of Saudi Arabia (956 deposits, or + 73%). Malaysia, Chile, Singapore and Brazil are also making progress. Globally, depositors based in Asia represented 53.7% of all deposits in 2020 against 35.7% in 2000. That year, China had only filed 782 international patent filings.

IT in mind

As far as business is concerned, the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies remains in the lead for the fourth consecutive year (5,464 PCT applications). South Korean giant Samsung Electronics is behind with 3,093 filings followed by Japanese company Mitsubishi Electric Corp (2,810 patents).

Unsurprisingly, the computer technology accounted for the largest share of published PCT applications (9.2%), followed by digital communications (8.3%), medical technology (6.6%), electrical machinery (6.6%) and measure (4.8%).

We might be surprised at the number of deposits recorded last year, when the world was already wiping off the Covid-19 pandemic. Note, however, that all these requests were made upstream. It takes several months for them to get through the system. It is therefore possible that a drop in the number of deposits will be recorded next year.

In comparison, a year after the 2008 crisis, international patent filings had, for example dropped by almost 5%.


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