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Huawei, Samsung and Qualcomm are Top Users of WIPO’s International Patent System; India, Türkiye and Republic of Korea are Standouts Amid Softening Global Demand

Geneva, March 7, 2024

China-based Huawei Technologies, Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea and the U.S.’s Qualcomm were the world’s top users in 2023 of WIPO’s international patent system and innovators in India increased their patent filing activity by nearly 50%, even as demand for international registrations of intellectual property (IP) via WIPO softened slightly.

Alongside India, the Republic of Korea and Türkiye are the only other countries to report year-on-year growth for three consecutive years, while cross-border patenting last year via WIPO dropped in China and the U.S. – the two biggest users of the system.

In the context of rising interest rates and economic uncertainty, filings through WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) system dropped 1.8% - marking a first decline in 14 years. Applications in the international trademark system fell 7% while use of the international design system bucked these trends to grow by 1% with expanded activity by China.

Higher interest rates and economic uncertainties cast a shadow on innovation activity in 2023. But declining inflation rates forecast for 2024 and hotspots like India, South-east Asia and beyond may provide more business confidence and innovation investments, setting the stage for a recovery in international IP fillings later this year.

Despite these shorter-term dips, longer-term trends show IP use rising steadily in an increasingly global, digitalized economy and spreading across the globe as economies around the world develop. Countries in Asia now represent 55.7% of international patent applications via WIPO – up from 40.5 percent just one decade ago. WIPO is dedicated to furthering a global uptake in IP use, particularly with groups that have historically been under-represented in the IP sector, like SMEs, youth and women. Increased innovation and creativity anywhere – meaning new technologies, great brands, art and culture - benefit all of us, wherever we live.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang

International patent system (Patent Cooperation Treaty – PCT)

Top PCT filers

The total number of PCT filings amounted to 272,600 in 2023, a 1.8% decline from the year before. In 2023, China continued to be the top origin of PCT applications filed with 69,610 - a small decrease of 0.6% from the previous year. This is the first year-on-year decrease from China since 2002. The US came in second with 55,678 applications, which represents a 5.3% drop on 2022. Japan followed with 48,879 applications (–2.9%). The Republic of Korea and Germany rounded out the top five, with 22,288 applications and 16,916 applications respectively. The Republic of Korea saw 1.2% growth in 2023, while Germany experienced a 3.2% decline (Annex 1 PDF, Annex 1).

Among the top 15 countries, India (+44.6%) and Türkiye (+8.5%) saw the fastest growth in PCT filings in 2023. In 2023, Indian innovators filed 44.6% more PCT applications than the previous year, following a 25.9% growth the year earlier as India’s innovation ecosystem strengthens and expands. The Netherlands (+5.8%), France (+2%) and the Republic of Korea (+1.2%) are the only other countries with growth in filings in 2023.

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies remained by far the top filer with 6,494 published PCT applications in 2023. Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea came in second (3,924 applications), followed by Qualcomm of the US (3,410), Mitsubishi Electric of Japan (2,152) and BOE Technology of China (1,988) (Annex 2 PDF, Annex 1). Contemporary Amperex Technology of China marked the fastest growth among the top 10 applicants, with an additional 1,533 published applications in 2023, moving up 84 positions to eighth place. In contrast, the top applicant, Huawei Technologies, had 1,195 fewer published applications in 2023 compared to the previous year.

In the education sector, the University of California (USA) remained the top applicant with 531 published PCT applications in 2023. Suzhou University (China) came in second (332 applications) followed by the University of Texas System (US, 217), Tsinghua University (China, 209) and Leland Stanford Junior University (USA, 180) (Annex 3 PDF, Annex 1). Tsinghua University witnessed the sharpest increase among the top five educational institutions, with an additional 35 published PCT applications.

Top technologies

Computer technology accounted for the largest share of published PCT applications at 10.2%, followed by digital communication (9.4%), electrical machinery (7.9%), medical technology (6.7%) and pharmaceuticals (4.7%) (Annex 4 PDF, Annex 1). Those five fields accounted for around two-fifths of all published PCT applications in 2023.

Of the top 10 fields of technology, only four saw growth in 2023, with electrical machinery (+8.8%) seeing the fastest rate of growth, closely followed by transport (+7.7%), semiconductor (+5.6%) and biotechnology (+3.8%). After seven successive years of year-on-year growth, computer technology saw a decline of 3.4% in 2023. Similarly, digital communication also declined by 2.1% in 2023 – marking its first decrease since 2019.

International trademark system (Madrid System)

Top Madrid filers

The total number of international trademarks applications filed under WIPO’s Madrid System in 2023 amounted to 64,200, which is 7% fewer than the previous year. US-based applicants (10,987) filed the largest number of international trademark applications, followed by those located in Germany (6,613), China (5,473), France (4,267) and the United Kingdom (3,817) (Annex 5 PDF, Annex 1).

Among the top 10 countries of origin, only two – China (+7.7%) and the Republic of Korea (+2.9%) – recorded growth from 2022 to 2023. In contrast, Germany (–14%), Australia (–13.9%), Switzerland (–12.4%) and the US (–11.8%) saw double-digit declines. Each of those origins recorded a year-on-year drop in filings for two successive years.

L’Oréal of France, with 199 Madrid applications, remained the top filer for the third year running in 2023. BMW AG (124 applications) of Germany moved up 33 places to become the second top filer, followed by Bulgaria’s Euro Games Technology (118), Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim International GMBH (110) and Novartis AG (110) of Switzerland.

Berlin-Chemie AG of Germany filed 104 more applications in 2023 than in 2022, elevating it to the 6th largest applicant. BMW AG (+85 applications) Boehringer Ingelheim International GMBH (+56) and Stokomani of France (+56) also saw considerable increase in filings between 2022 and 2023 (Annex 6 PDF, Annex 1).

Top classes

The most specified class in international applications received by WIPO covers computer hardware and software and other electrical or electronic apparatus, accounting for 11% of the 2023 total. It was followed by the class covering business services (8.8%) and the one relating to scientific and technological services (8.1%).

International design system (Hague System)

Top Hague filers

In 2023, the number of designs included in international applications under WIPO's Hague System reached a record, totaling 25,343, reflecting a modest increase of 1% and marking three successive years of growth. Germany remained the top user of the international design system with 4,517 designs, followed by China (3,758), the US (2,668), Switzerland (2,196), and Italy (1,817) (Annex 7PDF, Annex 1). Among the top ten countries, China (+46.9%) and Türkiye (+45.7%) experienced double-digit growth in 2023. The US (+9.2%), Japan (+6.9%) and France (+4.7%) also reported strong growth in 2023.

Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea moved into the top filing position with 544 designs in published applications, surpassing Procter & Gamble (525 designs), a US-based company that previously held the top position (Annex 8). LG Electronics of the Republic of Korea and Porsche AG of Germany, each with 352 designs, jointly held the third position, followed by Xiaomi Mobile Software of China with 315 designs.

Porsche AG, Hermes Sellier of France, Triple A Finance of Germany, and Alfred Karcher of Germany, all saw substantial increases in the number of designs included in their applications in 2023 compared to 2022, with increases of 235, 179, 175, and 142 designs respectively.

Top fields

In 2023, the largest share of total designs was in means of transport (11.2%), followed by recording and communication equipment (8.6%), furnishings (7.6%), packages and containers (6.9%), and household goods (5.6%).

WIPO dispute resolution (WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center)

Demand for WIPO alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services was strong in 2023, with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO AMC) involved in the resolution of 679 IP, innovation, and technology disputes in 2023. This represents a 24% increase from 2022 and +280% in the last five years.

Of the disputes under the WIPO ADR Rules, 43% related to copyright and digital content, 27% to trademarks, and 10% to patents (including some high-profile Standard Essential Patents/FRAND and life sciences disputes); 96% of co-administration cases related to copyright.

In 2023, SMEs, including startups, creators, and innovators, grew in number to represent 51% of the parties in dispute, followed by collective management organizations (23%), large-sized companies (13%), and other entities, including universities and R&D centers (13%). Major business sectors included creative industries (collective management, video games, esports, software), ICT (FRAND, telecom), and life sciences (biotechnology and pharmaceuticals).

WIPO domain name dispute resolution services saw another record year in filings, comprising nearly 6,200 complaints filed by brand owners in 2023, a 7% increase from 2022 and +68% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WIPO domain name cases filed in 2023 covered nearly every industry, with the top sectors being banking and finance (13%), biotechnology and pharmaceuticals (11%), Fashion (10%), Retail (10%) and Internet and IT (9%). The United States of America, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland represented the top filing country locations.

Beyond “.com”, over 12% of WIPO cases related to country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs).

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the United Nations agency that serves the world’s innovators and creators, ensuring that their ideas travel safely to the market and improve lives everywhere.

We do so by providing services that enable creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to protect and promote their intellectual property (IP) across borders and acting as a forum for addressing cutting-edge IP issues. Our IP data and information guide decisionmakers the world over. And our impact-driven projects and technical assistance ensure IP benefits everyone, everywhere.

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