China leads global patent rankings for the first time


China filed 58,990 international patent applications in 2019, edging out the U.S., which filed 57,840. The latter country had the most filings every year since the Patent Cooperation Treaty was established in 1978. (The Logic)

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Talking point: China’s rise is part of a broader growth among Asian countries in global patent share. Japan took the third spot, and Asia now accounts for 52.4 per cent of patent applications. Part of the shift comes from corporations, with four of the five most prolific corporate filers—Huawei, Mitsubishi, Samsung and Guang Dong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications—based in Asia. It’s also partly government policy. Beijing subsidizes R&D, and has been encouraging companies to file for patents as it seeks to catch up to the U.S. in technological areas like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It’s not just Asia that has seen an increase. Canada jumped 12.2 per cent in international patent applications, a greater rate of increase than China’s 10.6 per cent.