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China Holds onto Its Top Spot as the Leader in International Patent Filings

The latest report released by World Intellectual Property Organization (Hereinafter referred to as WIPO) indicates that the number of international patent filings of 2020 hit a record high, despite the huge economic and human lost caused by COVID-19, which proves that the innovation are not ceased by the pandemic. China increased by 16.1%, holding onto its top spot as the leader in international patent filings. While “the predicted downward trend” in international trademark applications is shown in the report, falling by 0.6%, the first decline since the international financial crisis in 2008.    
The international patent filings continued to grow despite the COVID-19, showing strong perseverance in innovation, according to 2020 Report of WIPO on International Patent, Trademark and Design released on Mar. 2nd.
The report reveals that China remains the largest user of WIPO's PCT System, maintaining its position as the top source of international patent filings.
International patent applications filed via WIPO's Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which is one of the widely used metrics for measuring innovative activity, grew by 4% in 2020 to reach 275,900 applications, the highest number ever, despite an estimated drop in the global gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.5 %, the report said. In the meantime, the innovative activities are globalizing as the long-term trends of international patent filings via PCT indicates. The number of Asian PCT applications accounts for 53.7%, comparing with that figure of 35.7% ten years ago.
China and the US were the two leading users that saw marked growth in patent filings in 2020, the report said. China filed 68,720 applications in 2020, year-on-year growth reached 16.1%, remained the largest user of WIPO's PCT System. US placed the second with 59,230 applications, increased by 3%, followed by Japan with 50,520 applications with the drop of 4.1%. South Korea filed 20,060 applications, increased by 5.2%, and Germany with 18,643 applications, decreased by 3.7%. Some countries showed strong momentum in this regards, e.g. Saudi Arabia (956 applications, 73.2% growth), Malaysia (255 applications, 26.2% growth), Chile (262 applications, 17% growth), Singapore (1,278 applications, 14.9% growth), Brazil (697 applications, 8.4% growth).
Trademark application generally indicates the launching of a new product or service, both of which so far are delayed by the pandemic. The predicted downswing was verified by the number of trademark applications filed under the Madrid System for the International Registration in 2020, which decreased to 63,800, a drop of 0.6%. This is the first decline since the international financial crisis in 2008.
Moreover, the impact of the pandemic on the economy also spreads to international industry design filed under the international design system. In 2020, the demand for design applications decreased to 18,580, falling by 15% compared with the same period previous year-the first drop since 2006.
Global demand for intellectual property helps innovators and companies bring their ideas into market, which roughly synchronizes with the global economic performance. Over the past 10 years, the use amount of WIPO IP service, especially PCT, had continued to grow, exceeding the growth of global GDP.
China's telecom company Huawei Technologies, with 5,464 PCT applications, ranks as the top filer of PCT in 2020 for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Samsung Electronics of South Korea (3,093 applications), Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan (2,810 applications), LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea (2,759 applications) and Qualcomm Inc. of the US (2,173 applications.)
Among the educational institutions, the University of California continues to lead the list with 559 applications in 2020, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (269 applications), China's Shenzhen University (252 applications), Tsinghua University (231 applications) and Zhejiang University (209 applications.) Five of the top 10-university in the list are from China, four from the U.S., and one from Japan.
Computer technology accounts for the largest proportion of 9.2% in PCT applications in all technical fields, followed by digital communication (8.3%), medical technology (6.6%), electric & machine (6.6%) and measurement (4.8%). Six of the top 10 technologies presented a double digit growth rate in 2020, leaded by the audio-video technology with 29.5% year-on-year growth.
With 10,005 applications, U.S.-based applicants filed the largest number of international trademark applications under the Madrid System in 2020, followed by Germany (7,344 applications), China (7,075 applications), France (3,716 applications) and the United Kingdom (3,679 applications). Among the top ten application origins, China is the only country achieving double-digit growth in 2020 with its 16.4% year-on-year growth. UK and Italy also presented a significant growth.
Computer software and hardware and other electric or electronic devices dominated in the international patent filings received by WIPO in 2020, accounting for 10.6% of the total amount. Business services (8.1%) and technical services (7.1%) rank second and third respectively.
Industrial design applications filed under the international design system saw a dramatic decline in 2020. Germany, with 3,666 industrial design applications, continues to be the largest user, followed by US (2,211 applications), Switzerland (1,994 applications), South Korea (1,669 applications) and Italy (1,231 applications). Among the top ten application origins, US, Turkey and China are the only three countries achieving positive growth, with the year-on-year growth of 62.7%, 34.7% and 22.7% respectively. Samsung from South Korea ranks first with 859 design applications for four consecutive years, followed by P&G from US (623 applications), Fonkel Meubelmarketing from the Netherlands (569 applications), Volkswagen from Germany (524 applications) and Beijing Xiaomi Corporation from China (516 applications). This is the first time that a Chinese corporate entered in the top 5 list.  
Transportation related design applications takes the largest proportion of design applications, accounting for 10.1%, followed by recording and communication devices (8.8%), packaging and containers (8.4%), furniture (7.4%), and lighting equipment (6.9%). Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics saw a large increase among the top 10, with a 42.6% year-on-year growth.
In 2020, trademark owners filed a record-high of 4,204 cases to WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (AMC) under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), with 7,247 domain names involved, raising the total number of domain name dispute cases received by WIPO to 50,541. Some infringing domain names registered by taking the advantages of the pandemic are included. Among the Generic Top-level Domain infringement cases received by WIPO, domain names with the suffix “.com” account for 75%, “.net” and “.org” occupy 4% and 3% respectively.
In 2020, WIPO provided dispute resolution services for more than 75 Country Code Generic Top-level Domains, such as ".CN" (China), ".EU" (EU), etc. The rapid growth of such cases reflects the growing importance of country code domain names to consumers. The parties from 127 countries area involved in uniform domain name dispute cases, and the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany are the top five countries filed the most cases.
Date: May. 3rd, 2021
Source: China Economic Net

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