China extends lead over U.S. in global patents filings, Huawei tops global rankings for 4th year


China was the biggest source of applications for international patents in the world in 2020 for the second consecutive year and extended its lead over No. 2 filer the United States, the U.N. patent agency said this week. The rate of increase was higher for China with a 16.1% year-on-year increase versus 3% for the United States, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

The biggest single filer under this system last year was China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd for the fourth consecutive year, and second was South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, WIPO said.

Daren Tang, WIPO director-general, said the rise in Chinese filings was part of a longer-term trend for higher applications from Asia more broadly, with South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia all submitting more applications last year.

Unlike after the 2008 financial crisis when filings fell sharply, overall filings via WIPO’s system were up 4% overall in 2020 to a new record despite the COVID-19-induced slowdown, it said. 

“The trend is that innovation remains resilient and the sense is that the world needs more innovation … during a crisis,” said Tang.