China innovators

China breaks world record for number of patent applications

Over a million submissions made to nation’s patent office last year, according to international intellectual property organisation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 12:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 12:41pm

China has set a world record for the number of patent applications submitted in one country within a year.

It was the first nation to see over a million patent applications filed last year, the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation said in a report.

Some 1,010,864 applications were submitted in China in 2015, more than a third of the filings made around the world, according to the report.

Many of the filings were for innovations in telecoms, computing, semiconductors and medical technology.

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The number of patents filed on the mainland was larger than the next three countries - the US, Japan and South Korea - combined.

The submissions in China increased by 18.7 per cent compared with 2014.

The figures includes applications from inventors or organisations within China, plus foreigners seeking patent protection on the mainland.

China also surpassed the US last year to become the world’s largest patent issuing country.

The nation’s patent office granted 359,316 patents in 2015, the report said.

China’s innovators are largely focused on home markets. Only 42,154 patent applications from Chinese inventors were filed outside the nation’s borders.

That is less than one fifth of what US innovators filed abroad and also lagged behind Japan, Germany and France.

The Chinese telecom and smartphone firms Huawei and ZTE were the most outward-looking inventors.

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Huawei topped an international patent system ranking, submitting 3,898 applications. ZTE was third with 2,155 submissions.

China’s government is trying shift the nation’s economy away from heavy industry and cheap manufacturing to encourage the growth in the high technology and service sectors.

The government offers subsidies to encourage firms to file patent applications.