Report data from 150 countries and regions reveal nation's rise on international stage
China has retained its No 1 position worldwide across a wide spectrum of intellectual property, according to a recent report by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The World Intellectual Property Indicators 2020 report released earlier this month analyzed last year's data from some 150 countries and regions around the world, covering patents, industrial designs, trademarks, geographical indications and plant varieties.
The figures underline the growing demand for intellectual property tools that incentivize an increasingly global and digital-focused economy, said WIPO Director General Daren Tang.
"The robust use of IP tools shows high levels of innovation and creativity at the end of 2019, just at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic," Tang said. "The pandemic has accelerated long-building trends by fostering the adoption of new technologies and accelerating the digitization of everyday life.
"Because IP is so connected to technology, innovation and digitalization, IP will become even more important to a greater number of countries in the post-COVID world."
As an IP powerhouse, China demonstrated its scale on the global innovation landscape, the report showed.
The number of patent filings with the China National Intellectual Property Administration fell to 1.4 million last year. The decline in patent applications primarily by Chinese filers was due to an overall shift in regulations in the country aimed at optimizing application structures, the report said.
That resulted in a slight drop of 3 percent in global patent applications, the first fall in a decade. Nevertheless, the number received by the CNIPA still more than doubled filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the second-largest patent application destination.
They together with their peers in Japan, South Korea and the European Union accounted for 84.7 percent of the world's total in 2019.
Of the top five offices, the CNIPA has considerably increased its share of the world's total filings over the past decade, from 17 percent in 2009 to 43.4 percent in 2019.
The report found the composition of the top 10 on the world patent chart has remained almost unchanged, except that in some years Australia was included, while in others it lost its place to Brazil.
Since China moved up from third position in 2009 to claim the top spot in 2011, it has continued to head the ranking for nine consecutive years.
The Chinese government issued a national IP strategy in 2008, encouraging creation, utilization, management and protection of IP. The move helped the country to gather momentum for burgeoning innovation, industry insiders said.
Of the top 20 offices, nine were located in Asia, six in Europe, two each in North America and Latin America and the Caribbean, and one in Oceania, according to the WIPO report.
Asia's share of all applications filed worldwide increased from 50.9 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2019. This was primarily driven by strong growth in filings in China, accounting for 67 percent of all applications filed in the region, the report said.
At the same time, an estimated 11.5 million trademark applications and 1.04 million industrial design applications were filed worldwide in 2019, up 5.9 percent and 1.3 percent from 2018, respectively. China tops both of the charts as the largest filing destination, WIPO said.
The IP office in the country accounted for more than half of both the annual increase in global trademark filing activity, and design applications filed worldwide last year, according to the report.
China surpassed the US to become the top filer of international patent applications via the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
In addition, of the 21,430 plant variety applications filed worldwide in 2019, more than one-third were from China. It was the only non-European country in the top 10.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference on Dec 8 that China's achievements in IP protection are evidenced by the WIPO report.
They are attributed to the Chinese government's efforts to put technological innovation in a core position in the country's overall development, carry out innovation-driven and IP-related strategies, increase IP protection and improve innovation capacities and IP protection awareness, she said.
China has shown decades of resolution in its policies to uplift IP to a strategic position and value it highly in various economic sectors. Such practices are worth sharing with other countries, China Radio International quoted Francis Gurry, former WIPO director-general, as saying.