Huawei leads Asian domination of U.N. patent applications in 2018
GENEVA, March 18 (Reuters) - Chinese telecoms giant
Huawei led the pack with Asia accounting for more than
half of the international patent applications at the World
Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) last year, WIPO said
Huawei, which has been under pressure since the United
States demanded its allies bar Chinese vendors from
participating in building 5G networks due to national security
concerns, made 5,405 patent applications to the U.N. body, up
from 4,024 in 2017.
"It’s an all-time record by anyone," WIPO director general
Francis Gurry told a news conference.
WIPO oversees international treaties governing patents,
trademarks and industrial designs. Its annual report on the
applications it receives - a subset of all intellectual property
filings globally - gives an early snapshot of the trends.
Asia-based filings accounted for 50.5 percent of the total
applications received, Gurry said.
"Historically, this is really quite extraordinary," he said.
"Historically, this is a momentous occasion, this is something
that is really a very, very significant result."
The second-biggest user of the WIPO international patent
system in 2018 was Mitsubishi Electric with 2,812
filings, followed by Intel with 2,499.
Although inventors in the United States filed more
applications than in any other country, China looks set to take
the top place this year or next, after a meteoric rise over the
past quarter century.
Having filed only one patent application in the WIPO system
in 1993, its applications overtook Japan's in 2017 and grew by a
further 9.1 percent to 53,345 in 2018, while the number of
U.S.-based filings slipped 0.9 percent to 56,142.
Asia accounted for six of the top eight companies, with
China's ZTE Corp and BOE Technology Group
and South Korea's Samsung Electronics
and LG Electronics also among the leaders.
China also jumped up the academic rankings, with four of its
universities making the top ten list for the first time.
While the University of California remained well ahead among
educational institutions, with 501 patent applications in 2018,
and Massachusetts Institute of Technology was second, Shenzhen
University and South China University of Technology leapt into
third and fourth spot, just ahead of Harvard.
Gurry said Chinese universities benefited from an extremely
strong emphasis on innovation and the commercialisation of basic
research, as well as access to the world's second largest
national pool of research and development spending.
He said China had introduced an equivalent of the U.S.
Bayh-Dole Act, ensuring that patents taken out on
government-sponsored research were being used, which may have
had an influence on Chinese universities' attitude towards
commercialising their research.
The WIPO report represents applications for patents,
trademarks and designs that their owners feel are valuable
enough to protect and promote in overseas markets. Another WIPO
report, released in December includes millions of applications
for IP protection that are never filed overseas.
(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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