ZTE overtook Chinese rival Huawei Technologies as the biggest filer of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications last year, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). US-based Qualcomm claimed third position.
US-based applicants dominated international patent filings in 2016, lodging 56,595. But they were swiftly followed by applicants from Japan (45,239) and China (43,168), which has posted double-digit growth each year since 2002.
If this current trend continues, China will overtake the US within two years as the largest user of the PCT system, according to WIPO.
“In an interlinked, knowledge-based global economy, creators and innovators are increasingly relying on intellectual property to promote and protect their competitive edge around the world,” commented WIPO director general Francis Gurry.
“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’.”
In total, Asia accounted for 47.4 percent of total PCT applications, just short of the combined share of Europe (25.6 percent) and North America (25.3 percent).
China recorded extraordinary growth (+44.7 percent), while Italy (+9.3 percent), Israel (+9.1 percent), India (+8.3 percent) and the Netherlands (+8 percent) also saw strong growth rates.
In contrast, Canada (-17.3 percent) saw a substantial decline in filings for the second consecutive year. This was linked to declining applications from BlackBerry and Nortel.