Chinese global patenting applications surged 45 per cent in 2016, leaving the country on course to overtake the US and Japan and become the world’s biggest innovator in the next few years.
Leading the charge are Shenzhen-based ZTE and Huawei, two of China's leading consumer electronics manufacturers, which once again topped the annual list for international patent applications compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo), published on Tuesday.
“China-based filers are behind much of the growth in international patent and trademark filings, making great strides in internationalising their businesses as the country continues its journey from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’," said Francis Gurry, Wipo director-general.
The middle-income country has posted double-digit growth in filings each year since 2002.
It still trails the US, which held on to the top position for the 39th consecutive year with 56,595 applications last year, and Japan with 45,239, but if trends continue China will overtake both within two years, Wipo says.
European companies did not provide the same rapid growth as filers in Asia, but held on to their share of global patents.
Germany, with 18,315 applications, remains the continent’s biggest filer. Italy and the Netherlands saw strong growth.
Asia accounted for 47.4 per cent of all applications last year, just short of the combined share of Europe (25.6 per cent) and North America (25.3 per cent).