China Remains Top Patent Cooperation Treaty Filer in 2021
Sunday, February 13, 2022

Per statistics released February 10, 2022 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China remains the top filer of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications for the third year in a row.  Chinese applicants filed 69,540 PCT applications in 2021, an increase of 0.9% versus 2020. This was followed by the U.S. (59,570 applications, +1.9%), Japan (50,260 applications, –0.6%), the Republic of Korea (20,678 applications, +3.2%) and Germany (17,322 applications, –6.4%).  

A PCT application is a single international application that gives applicants 30 months from the priority date of an original priority application to file in contracting states (versus the usual 12 months via the Paris Convention).  In addition, PCT applicants are provided with an International Search Report and an International Preliminary Report on Patentability.

Due to the expense of PCT applications, some consider PCT applications an indication of quality as only the most important patent applications would be deserving of the expense. However, many applicants skip the PCT and file important applications directly in foreign countries.

China-based telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, with 6,952 published PCT applications, was the top filer in 2021. It was followed by Qualcomm Inc. of the U.S. (3,931), Samsung Electronics of the Republic of Korea (3,041), LG Electronics Inc. of the Republic of Korea (2,885) and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. of Japan (2,673). Also in the top 10 from China were Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Corp., Ltd. and BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd.

Among educational institutions, University of California lead with 551 published applications with China’s Zhejiang University second with 306 applications.

Among fields of technology, computer technology (9.9% of total) accounted for the largest share of published PCT applications, followed by digital communication (9%), medical technology (7.1%), electrical machinery (6.9%), and measurement (4.6%).

China’s top 3 fields of technology were computer technology, digital communication, and audio-visual technology.

More statistics are available here.


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