Chinese inventors take patent crown from U.S.: report

GENEVA Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:27am IST

GENEVA (Reuters) - China has overtaken the United States to become the world's biggest processor of patent applications, giving an innovative edge to Beijing's economic and industrial clout, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.

Inventors and firms, the vast majority of them Chinese, filed 526,000 applications to patent offices in the country in 2011, a quarter of the global total, said the U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

"It's a historic turning point," WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry told Reuters after the report was released in Geneva.

"Even though caution is required in directly comparing IP (intellectual property) filing figures across countries, these trends nevertheless reflect how the geography of innovation has shifted," the annual report added.

The United States, which processed 503,000 applications in 2011, had been in the top spot since 2006. The only other past holders were Germany and Japan.

Gurry told journalists the data showed China was embracing the intellectual property system and he expected it would keep its lead in 2012.

"I would say that they are producing more, which would suggest they have a strong interest in the technological production being protected," he told a news briefing.

But any hope China markets had turned their back on knock-off goods and pirated brands was rubbished by another study on Tuesday, for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which ranked Beijing as one of the world's worst protectors of copyrights and patents.

The fastest growth in patent filings over the past five years came in the digital communications sector, said Carsten Fink, WIPO chief economist.

"On one hand this reflects technology opportunities that exist in this field, this is something we observe every day as we use our smart phones. But arguably it also reflects the fierce competition among innovating firms in this sector and the need to protect their intellectual property in the marketplace," Fink said.

Japan was in third with 342,610 patent applications filed in 2011, followed by South Korea with 178,924 and the European Patent office with 142,793, according to WIPO.

The European Union took a step closer to an EU-wide patent on Tuesday with lawmakers voting to cut the cost of protecting inventions and a top adviser to Europe's highest court rejecting a challenge to the new scheme.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Reforms Push

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

26/11 Plotter

26/11 Plotter

Pakistan to challenge bail for Mumbai attack "mastermind".  Full Article 

Chinese Economy

Chinese Economy

China revises up size of 2013 economy, sees no effect on 2014 growth.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage