Spurred by patent and trademark applications in China, global innovation flies high – UN agency

23 November 2016

Global innovation is soaring as the 2015 edition of a United Nations agency on intellectual property report reveals that 2.9 million patent applications lodged worldwide – a 7.8 per cent increase over the previous year.

Trademark applications, too rose 15.3 per cent to about six million in and worldwide industrial design applications grew by 2.3 per cent to 872,000, according to the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

“As policy-makers seek to invigorate growth around the world, it is encouraging to report that intellectual property filing activity saw healthy progression in 2015,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry, announcing the agency’s World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report.

“Intellectual property (IP) use grew in most countries in 2015, reflecting its increasing importance in a globalized knowledge economy,” he added.

Patents – More than a million filings at China’s patent office

According to the report, Chinese innovators filed the most patent applications (1,010,406) in 2015, followed by those from the United States (526,296) and Japan (454,285), and China’s patent office received 1,101,864 filings in 2015, making it the first office to receive more than a million applications in a single year.

An estimated 10.6 million patents were in force around the globe in 2015. US accounted for about a quarter (24.9 per cent of the total), followed by 18.3 per cent in Japan and 13.9 per cent in China.

In terms of sectors, computer technology (7.9 per cent of the total) saw the highest percentage of published patent applications worldwide, followed by electrical machinery (7.3 per cent) and digital communication (4.9 per cent). Around 1.24 million patents were granted worldwide in 2015 (5.2 per cent more than 2014, and the fastest growth rate since 2012). This was due mainly to an increase of grants in China, which issued 359,316 patents in 2015 to surpass the US (298,407) as the largest patent issuing office, WIPO noted.

Trademarks – up 26.6 per cent

China also saw the highest trademark filing activity with some 2.83 million applications, followed by the US (517,297), European Union (EU) Intellectual Property Office (366,383) and Japan (345,070).

In addition, 2015 saw about 4.4 million trademark registrations, covering some 6.2 million cases, recorded. This was an increase of 26.6 percent over 2014 and the fastest growth in over 15 years.

Around 4.4 million trademark registrations covering 6.2 million classes were recorded worldwide in 2015. This was a 26.6% increase on 2014 and the fastest growth in over 15 years.

Industrial Designs – rebounding with 2.3 per cent growth

Global applications for industrial design - the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article, consist of three dimensional features (shape of article) or two dimensional features (patterns, lines or colour) grew by 2.3 per cent, rebounding from a sharp decrease recorded in 2014.

Designers across the world filed 872,800 applications containing 1.1 million designs. The growth was mainly due to increases in applications filed China, the Republic of Korea and the US.

WIPO is a specialized agency of the UN provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It works to strengthen capacity in developing countries to help them benefit from using IP. WIPO also provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.


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