GENEVA - China overtook Japan in global patent applications filed in 2017 and is closing in on the United States, the long-standing leader, the World Intellectual Property Organization said in a report.
With 48,882 filings, up 13.4 percent from a year earlier, Chinese entities came closer to their American counterparts, which filed 56,624 applications. Japanese applicants ranked third with 48,208 demands for patents, up 6.6 percent from a year ago, the report, released Wednesday, said.
According to the Geneva-based institution, China will likely overtake the United States as the world’s largest patent applicant within three years.
“This rapid rise in Chinese use of the international patent system shows that innovators there are increasingly looking outward, seeking to spread their original ideas into new markets as the Chinese economy continues its rapid transformation,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said in a press release.
The overall filings in 2017 were 243,500, up 4.5 percent from a year earlier.
Data showed that China and Japan were key drivers of the surge in applications. “This is part of a larger shift in the geography of innovation, with half of all international patent applications now originating in East Asia,” Gurry said.
By company, two Chinese firms topped the list, led by Huawei Technologies Co. with 4,024 patent applications and ZTE Corp. with 2,965 applications. Intel Corp. of the United States placed third with 2,637 filings, followed by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. with 2,521 filings.