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Japan Drops Behind China in International Patent Applications
[2018.11.01]

China moved slightly ahead of Japan in 2017 in the number of international patent applications it filed.

Japan slipped to third place in the number of international patent applications filed by country in 2017. The World Intellectual Property Organization, an agency of the United Nations, announced a record high of 243,500 filings, up 4.5% from 2016. The United States maintained leadership status with 56,624 filings, while China rose from third to second with 48,882. Japan had been second only to the United States since 2003, but ended a small margin behind China in 2017 with 48,208 filings.

Over the past ten years, China has been increasing applications by more than 10% each year, boosting its presence as a technological power.

Top 10 Countries by Number of Patents Filed

Country Number filed Year-on-year change
1 United States 56,624 + 0.1%
2 China 48,882 + 13.4%
3 Japan 48,208 + 6.6%
4 Germany 18,982 + 3.7%
5 South Korea 15,763 + 1.3%
6 France 8,012 – 2.4%
7 Britain 5,567 + 1.2%
8 Switzerland 4,491 + 2.8%
9 The Netherlands 4,431 – 5.2%
10 Sweden 3,981 + 7.0%

Compiled by Nippon.com based on data published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei and ZTE ranked first and second for number of applications filed by corporations. Mitsubishi Electric and Sony represented Japan in the top 10 list, as they had also done the previous year. Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean companies occupied seven spots in the list, indicating that East Asia is a center of innovation.

Top 10 Companies by Number of Patents Filed

Rank Company name Number filed
1 Huawei (China) 4,024
2 ZTE (China) 2,965
3 Intel (United States) 2,637
4 Mitsubishi Electric (Japan) 2,521
5 Qualcomm (United States) 2,163
6 LG Electronics (South Korea) 1,945
7 BOE Technology Group (China) 1,818
8 Samsung Electronics (South Korea) 1,757
9 Sony (Japan) 1,735
10 Ericsson (Sweden) 1,564

Compiled by Nippon.com based on data published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Japan is feeling pressure from China, but it still has a broad base of companies filing patents. The 13 other Japanese corporations in the top 50 apart from Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are as follows: Panasonic IP Management (15), Fujifilm (19), Denso (20), Sharp (21), Olympus (22), Hitachi (23), NEC (24), Murata Manufacturing (29), Hitachi Automotive Systems (35), Konica Minolta (36), Autonetworks Technologies (41), NTN (46), Kyocera (47).

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

  • [2018.11.01]
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