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China Daily Global / 2021-03 / 18 / Page006

China files record patents in Europe

By WANG MINGJIE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-03-18 00:00

Patent applications by Chinese companies in Europe rose nearly 10 percent to a new high in 2020 despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a report said.

The European Patent Office, or the EPO, published its Patent Index 2020. It showed patent applications from Chinese inventors hit 13,432 last year, an increase of 9.9 percent year-on-year. It was the highest growth rate among the 10 leading patent-filing countries.

The increase contrasts with lower patent application numbers from most other leading technology countries. Companies from the United States filed 4.1 percent fewer applications in 2020 with a total of 44,293, and patent applications from Japan decreased by 1.1 percent, to 21,841. Patents filed from South Korea saw strong growth of 9.2 percent, to 9,106.

The number of patent applications made to the EPO in 2020 was marginally fewer than in 2019, slipping by 0.7 percent. The institution received 180,250 patent applications last year, slightly below the record level of 181,532 in 2019.

"In terms of European patent applications filed, Chinese companies again showed the strongest growth among leading countries at the EPO last year," said EPO President Antonio Campinos.

"Despite the challenges of 2020, Chinese firms were able to increase their patenting activities in a growing range of technologies. That is good news because innovation, supported by a strong patent system, is more important than ever for making our world healthier, safer, and more sustainable, and in driving economic recovery," he said.

Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology showed the biggest increases in terms of patent filings, with increases of 10.2 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.

Medical technology is up by 2.6 percent and accounted for the most inventions in 2020, with a total of 14,295 patent applications. It grabbed back the top spot from digital communications, which had been the most active field in 2019. Transport showed the largest drop of 5.5 percent.

The top three technology fields with the most patent applications from China were digital communication, with a 26.5 percent sector share of all applications received at the EPO in that field from all countries. Next is computer technology at an 11.6 percent share, and electrical machinery, apparatus and energy with a 9.1 percent share.

In overall company ranking, Huawei was the second-largest patent applicant at the EPO in 2020, behind Samsung and ahead of LG.

For the first time, all of China's five most highly-ranked companies were among the 50 largest patent applicants at the EPO, a confirmation that the patent portfolio of technologies coming from China is broadening, the report said.





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