China, Japan, and South Korea show dominating growth in international patent filings and exhibit a significant shift of economic, competitive and scientific power to Asia, based on data released in February 2011 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The World Intellectual Property Organization said China had increased its international patent filings in 2010 by 56.2% to 12,337, tripling its 2006 figure and elevating China into fourth place in global rankings. These figures include a 33% increase in patent filings in electrical engineering and 220% increase in nanotechnology.
South Korea, ranked 5th with 9,686 filings, grew 20.5%, and Japan, a country with a mature economy, still attained growth of 7.9% with 32,156 applications to place 2nd, and Germany, with 17,171 applications, ranked 3rd on the list.
The United States is stilled ranked number one, although it experienced a drop of 1.7% to 44,855 filings, some 20% below its 2007 level. International patent applications by universities are still dominated by U.S. schools. Leading the pack is the University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas, and University of Florida. Under this ranking, the University of Tokyo follows closely at number 5.
The top 10 companies by filings include 3 from Japan, 2 from China, and 1 from South Korea, with 1 U.S. and 3 European firms completing the list.
Looking at the data from a corporate perspective, Japanese consumer electronics group Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC; TYO: 6752) again led the list with 2,154 applications, and China’s telecommunications giant, ZTE Corporation (SZSE: 000063; SEHK: 0763), jumped into 2nd place with 1,863 applications. U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) was in 3rd place with 1,677 filings, and Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is in 4th place with 1,528 applications. LG Electronics Inc. (KRX: 066570; LSE: LGLD) of Korea takes the 7th place with 1,298 applications. Of the top 10 corporate applicants, 6 are from Asia. The U.S. juggernaut Google Inc. is ranked only 80th with 171 applications.
Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO offers inventors and industry an easier route for obtaining patent protection internationally. By filing one “international” patent application under the PCT, protection of an invention may be established simultaneously in each of the current 142 treaty member countries.
Both applicants and patent offices of PCT member states benefit from the uniform formality requirements, the international search and preliminary examination reports, and the centralized international publication provided by the PCT system.
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