GENEVA – The United States retained its lead as the world’s most inventive country in 2013, accounting for 27.9 percent of all international patent applications, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which tracks patent applications in 148 nations.
But China is closing fast, with a 15.6 percent increase in its applications, compared with the United States’ increase of 10.8 percent, the organization reported.
The U.S. total was boosted by U.S. universities, which occupied nine of the top 10 positions in filing by education institutions.
“I think it’s an indicator of the restart of the American economic engine, with technology and innovation as the driver of that engine,” Francis Gurry, director-general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, told McClatchy.
A record 205,300 international patent applications were filed under the organization’s Patent Cooperation treaty, the global accord that allows inventors and industry to obtain patent protection in multiple countries.
The United States accounted for 57,239 filings. Japan was No. 2, with 43,918. But that was up a mere 0.6 percent, while China pushed into the No. 3 position with 21,516 applications, surpassing Germany.
The largest single category for patent applications was electronic machinery and energy, with 7.8 percent of the total, followed closely by applications for computer technology and digital communication. Medical technology made up 6.2 percent of applications and pharmaceuticals, 4 percent.
The record number of filings, Gurry said, “attest to the importance of intellectual property in the global innovation ecosystem.”
While the United States accounted for the most patent applications, the single largest individual filer was a Japanese company, Panasonic Corp., which filed for protection on 2,881 inventions or innovations. China’s ZTE Corp. was No. 2, with 2,309.
The U.S. corporation with the most applications was San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., which, with 2,036 applications, ranked fourth in the world, followed by Intel Corp., based in Santa Clara, Calif., at No. 5, with 1,852.