World Intellectual Property Organization

US and China Drive International Patent Filing Growth in Record-Setting Year

Geneva, March 13, 2014
PR/2014/755

The United States of America and China drove record-level patent-filing activity via WIPO in 2013 as the number of annual international patent applications surpassed the 200,000 mark for the first time. International trademark and industrial design filings also achieved new record-breaking levels.

The total number of filings under WIPO’s Patent and Cooperation Treaty (PCT)1 applications filed in 2013 amounted to 205,300, representing 5.1% growth compared with 2012.2 The United States of America (US) saw double digit growth in PCT filings and together with China accounted for 56% and 29% of the total PCT growth, respectively.

With 57,239 applications in 2013, the US exceeded in 2013 its previous filing peak of 54,046 applications reached prior to the global financial crisis in 2007. China surpassed Germany to become the third largest user of the PCT system, with Japan as the second-highest user. The US remains the most-active user of the system (Annex 1).

Panasonic of Japan, with 2,881 published PCT applications overtook ZTE Corporation of China as the largest filer in 2013.3

“The new records in international IP filings attest to the importance of intellectual property in the global innovation ecosystem,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “WIPO’s global intellectual property systems are an indispensable part of the global innovation ecosystem, providing cost-effective options to secure international coverage for the protection of intellectual property.”

In line with growing investments in research and development (R&D), the automobile industry has seen a sharp increase in international patent filings over the last three years.

International trademark applications filed under the Madrid system grew to 46,829 in 2013, the highest number ever recorded, representing 6.4% growth on 2012.4 The US accounted for 21.8% of the total growth. Germany, with 6,822 applications, continued to file the largest number of Madrid international applications, followed by the US (6,043) and France (4,239) (Annex 1). Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis heads the list of top applicants, with 228 applications in 2013.

International industrial design applications filed under the Hague system increased to 2,990 filings in 2013, also another record, representing growth of 14.8% on 2012.5 Switzerland, with 662 applications, overtook Germany (643 applications) as the largest user of the system, while Swatch AG of Switzerland, with 113 applications, continued to be the largest individual filer.6

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PCT system

Other PCT filing trends

Among the top 10 PCT filing countries, China (+15.6%), the US (+10.8%) and Sweden (+10.4%) saw double-digit growth in 2013. The US saw its fastest growth rate since 2001. China’s growth rate is similar to the one it registered in 2012. Germany (-4.5%) and the UK (-0.6%) are the only two countries among the top ten with fewer PCT applications in 2013 than in 2012. Following strong growth in 2011 and 2012, Japan saw only modest growth of 0.6% in 2013.

After China, India (1,392) is the largest user of the PCT system among low- and middle-income countries, followed by Turkey (835), Brazil (661), South Africa (350), Malaysia (310) and Mexico (233). Among those countries, Turkey (+56.1%) saw the fastest growth in filings, followed by Mexico (+22%) and Brazil (+12.2%). Annex 2 reports data for all countries.

Top PCT applicants

Panasonic Corporation of Japan – with 2,881 published PCT applications – overtook ZTE Corporation of China (2,309) as the top applicant in 2013. ZTE Corporation was the top applicant in 2011 and 2012, while Panasonic Corporation headed the top applicant list in 2009 and 2010. Huawei Technologies, Co. of China (2,094) and Qualcomm Incorporated of the US (2,036) are the two other applicants that saw more than 2,000 PCT applications published in 2013. Among the top 50 applicants, Intel Corporation of the US (+1,212) saw the largest increases in PCT filings, while ZTE Corporation (-1,597) saw the largest decline. Annex 3 reports data for the top 50 applicants.

Looking at the technology distribution of Panasonic’s patenting activity, semiconductor devices account for the largest number of PCT applications, followed by television related technology and batteries for conversion of chemical into electrical energy. ZTE Corporation and Huawei Technologies, Co. applications show a focus on digital communication and computer technology. Both companies filed the largest number of applications in technologies related to wireless communication networks, followed by transmission of digital information and digital data processing.

University of California, with 398 published applications, is the top applicant among educational institutions followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (217), Columbia University (133), the University of Texas System (119) and Harvard University (119). US universities occupy 9 of the top 10 positions among educational institutions. The only non-US university in the top ten ranking is the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (105). Annex 4 reports data for the top 50 applicants among educational institutions.

PCT filings by field of technology

Electronic machinery with 14,897 published applications – or 7.8% of the total – accounted for the largest share of PCT applications, followed by computer technology (7.7%) and digital communications (7.3%). Annex 5 reports data for the 35 technology fields. Panasonic Corporation, Toyota Jidosha KK, Robert Bosch Corporation and Siemens AG are the top applicants for electronic machinery. Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Qualcomm Incorporated, and NEC Corporation are the top applicants for computer technology. In digital communications, ZTE Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd, Ericsson and Qualcomm Incorporated are the top four applicants.

For 31 of the 35 technology fields, the top 10 applicants are all from the business sector. In four technology fields – analysis of biological materials, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and nanotechnology –applicants from the public sector feature among the top ten.

Toyota Jidosha K.K. of Japan – with 1,696 published PCT applications in 2013 – is the top user of the PCT system in the automobile industry, followed by Nissan Motor Co. of Japan (644), Honda of Japan (364), Daimler AG of Germany (237) and Audi AG of Germany (231). The total number of PCT applications filed by 13 car manufactures has increased sharply from 2,322 in 2010 to 4,275 in 2013, possibly reflecting fast-growing investments in R&D in this industry.7

Madrid system

Top Madrid filing countries

The ranking of the top 10 Madrid filing countries is similar to that of 2012. Among the top 10 origins, Australia (+20.9%), the Netherlands (+14.9%) and the US (+11.3%) saw the fastest growth in filings in 2013, while Japan is the only country to have recorded a decline in filings on 2012. Beyond the top 10, Turkey (1,213) and the Russian Federation (1,126) are also large users of the Madrid system. Mexico (46) and India (41) – two new Madrid members – filed similar numbers of international trademark applications in 2013. Annex 6 reports data for all countries.

Top Madrid applicants

Novartis AG of Switzerland with 228 international applications was the top Madrid applicant in 2013, followed by Zentiva Group of the Czech Republic (114), Egis Gyógyszergyár of Hungary (111), L’Oréal of France (109) and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma of Germany (107). European countries dominate the top 50 applicant list. Only six non-European companies feature among the top 50: Apple Inc. (48), Microsoft Corporation (48), Hyundai Motor Company (37), Avon Products Inc. (31), Takeda Pharmaceutical (29) and Universal Entertainment (29). Annex 7 reports data for top Madrid applicants.

Designated Madrid members8

In 2013, the total number of designations and subsequent designations in international registrations increased by 7.2%. China was the most designated Madrid member. However, its share of total designations decreased from 6.1% in 2012 to 5.8% in 2013. The Russian Federation surpassed the European Union (EU) to become the second most designated Madrid member (5.2%), followed by the EU (5%), the US (4.9%), Switzerland (3.8%) and Japan (3.7%). Annex 6 reports data for all designated Madrid members.

Among the new Madrid members, Mexico (5,095) received the largest number of designations, followed by India (1,916), Tunisia (138) and Rwanda (100).

Among the top 10 designated members, the Russian Federation (+9.6%), the Republic of Korea (+8.7%) and Australia (+8.6%) saw the fastest growth in designations received, while Switzerland (-1.8%) was the only top 10 designated member to record a decline.

Madrid international registrations by class

When submitting a trademark application, an applicant is required to specify the goods or services to which protection should apply in accordance with an international classification system known as the “Nice Classification”. The most popular classes of goods and services in international registrations recorded in 2013 were Class 9 (covering, for example, computer hardware and software) representing 9.1% of the total. Class 35 (covering services such as office functions, advertising and business management) was the second most popular class, with 7.7% of the total, followed by Class 42 (covering services provided by for example, scientific, industrial or technological engineers and computer specialists) and Class 25 (covering clothing, footwear and headgear). Annex 8 reports data for the top 15 classes.

Among the top 15 classes, Class 5 (mainly pharmaceuticals) and Class 30 (mainly foodstuffs of plant origin) saw the fastest growth in 2013, with 9.0% and 8.6%, respectively.

Hague system

Top Hague filing countries

The top three Hague users – Switzerland, Germany, and Italy – accounted for 58% of the total Hague applications filed in 2013. Among low- and middle -income countries, Turkey (70) filed the largest number of Hague applications, followed by Bulgaria (22) and China (18). Annex 9 reports data for all countries.

Among the top 10 countries, Italy (+121.7%) and Norway (+105.9%) saw the most rapid growth in applications in 2013, while Sweden (-5.8%), France (-4.9%), the Netherlands (-4.6%) and Turkey (-2.8%) recorded filing declines.

The Hague system allows filing of up to 100 different designs per application. In 2013, the total number of designs filed under the system grew by 5.8%. Germany accounted for 27.5% of the total, followed by Switzerland (23%), France (10.8%) and Italy (8.4%).

Top Hague applicants

For the second consecutive year, Swatch AG of Switzerland (113) filed the largest number of Hague applications, followed by Koninklijke Philips Electronics (82), the Procter & Gamble Company (76), Daimler AG (52) and Volkswagen (51). All of the top 20 applicants are European companies, except the Procter & Gamble Company and the Gillette Company of the US. Among the top 20 applicants, Swatch AG (+32), Omega SA (+23), and the Procter & Gamble Company (+22) saw the largest increases in filings in 2013, while Audi AG of Germany (-41) and Daimler AG (-23) recorded the steepest declines. Annex 10 reports data for the top Hague applicants.

Designated Hague members9

The total number of designations in international applications amounted to 16,159 in 2013, an increase of 13.9% on 2012. The EU (2,099 designations) received the most designations, followed by Switzerland (1,934), Turkey (1,339), Norway (785) and Singapore (743). Annex 9 reports data for all designated Hague members.

The total number of designs contained in designations amounted to 67,113 in 2013, a modest increase on 2012 (+1%).

Hague international registrations by class

Packages and containers (Class 9), and clocks and watches and other measuring instruments (Class 10) accounted for the largest shares – 10.9% each – of total Hague registrations, followed by furnishing (class 6) and means of transport (class 12) with shares of 8.4% and 7.2%, respectively. Among the top 15 classes, recording and communication equipment (Class 14; +42.5%), and tools and hardware (class 8; +40.3%) saw the fastest growth in applications in 2013, whereas clothing (class 2; -15.3%) saw the largest decline. Annex 11 reports data for the top 15 classes.

Background information on the PCT, Madrid and Hague systems

PCT system

The PCT system facilitates the acquisition of patent rights in multiple jurisdictions. It simplifies the process of multiple national patent filings by delaying the requirement to file a separate application in each jurisdiction in which protection is sought. However, the decision of whether or not to grant patents remains the prerogative of national or regional patent offices, and patent rights are limited to the jurisdiction of the patent granting authority. The PCT system now has 148 member states.

For data updates and additional analysis on the performance of the PCT system in 2013, consult the PCT Yearly Review: The International Patent System, which will be published on WIPO’s Intellectual Property Statistics website in May 2014.

Madrid system

The Madrid system makes it possible for an applicant to apply for a trademark in a large number of countries by filing a single international application at a national or regional IP office of a country/region that is party to the system. It simplifies the process of multinational trademark registration by reducing the requirement to file an application at the IP office in each country in which protection is sought. The system also simplifies the subsequent management of the mark, since it is possible to record further changes or to renew the registration through a single procedural step.

For data updates and additional analysis on the performance of the Madrid system in 2013, consult the Madrid Yearly Review: International Registrations of Marks, which will be published on WIPO’s Intellectual Property Statistics website in April 2014.

Hague system

The Hague system makes it possible for an applicant to register industrial designs in multiple countries by filing a single application with the International Bureau of WIPO. By allowing the filing of up to 100 different designs per application, the system offers significant opportunities for efficiency gains. Moreover, it simplifies the process of multinational registration by reducing the requirement to file separate applications with the IP offices of each Hague member country/region in which protection is sought. The system also streamlines the subsequent management of the industrial design registration, since it is possible to record changes or to renew the registration through a single procedural step.

For data updates and additional analysis on the performance of the Hague system in 2013, consult the Hague Yearly Review: International Registrations of Industrial Designs, which will be published on WIPO’s Intellectual Property Statistics website in April 2014.

  1. The PCT system allows users to seek patent protection simultaneously in multiple jurisdictions by filing a single international patent application.
  2. PCT application data are estimates as WIPO continues to receive in 2014 PCT applications that were filed with national offices in 2013.
  3. For confidentiality reasons, the ranking of top applicants and the breakdown by field of technology are based on published PCT applications rather than on the number filed. Statistics based on publication date have a delay of approximately six months compared to those based on international filing date.
  4. WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (the Madrid system) makes it possible to register trademarks in multiple jurisdictions by filing a single international application.
  5. WIPO’s Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the Hague system) makes it possible for an applicant to register up to 100 industrial designs in multiple jurisdictions by filing a single international application.
  6. A single Hague application can contain up to 100 individual designs.
  7. The top 500 PCT applicants list includes 13 car manufacturers.
  8. In international applications, applicants designate countries or a region (as in the case of the EU) in which to seek protection for their trademarks.
  9. In international applications, applicants designate countries or a region (as in the case of the EU) in which to seek protection for their industrial designs.

For further information, please contact the Media Relations Section at WIPO:

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