WIPO, SIPO and USPTO: US-China Patent Filing Trends

Chinese Activity at WIPO

A WIPO report released on March 19 noted that Huawei, with 3,442 published PCT applications, overtook Panasonic as the largest applicant in 2014. Qualcomm was the second largest applicant in 2014, with 2,409 published applications. ZTE Corp. took third place with 2,179 PCT applications.

These top three applicants have similar patent filing profiles, with digital communication accounting for the bulk of their total filings.

The report highlights some weakness amongst Chinese academic institutions: among the top 25 educational institution filers, there were only two Chinese academic institutions – Peking University (no. 19) and Tsinghua (no. 23).

United States Activity at SIPO

SIPO’s 2014 Statistical Report (no. 164), analyzes filing trends from foreign countries, including the United States that further underscores the competition amongst Qualcomm, Huawei and ZTE and in the ICT sectors.

United States China invention patent applications with SIPO amounted to 135,138 pieces over the previous five year period analyzed.   The annual growth rate during this period was 8.3%. In 2013 United States patent applications were 29,992, about 1.4 times 2009.

According to SIPO, the following companies from the United States filed more than 3,000 patents from 2009-2013: Qualcomm (6,029); GE (5,875); General Motors (5,697); Microsoft (3,957) and IBM (3,293). Also of note during this period, Apple’s patent filings have increased rapidly, while Microsoft’s decreased after 2011 to 327 in 2013, falling to 11th place among US applicants.

SIPO’s description of Qualcomm’s role in communication technologies underscores highly competitive relationships in China:

Over the five year period of this survey, Qualcomm’s 5-year filings have ranked amongst the top three United States applicants. Chinese enterprises have also substantially increased their communication invention patents, and this substantial growth has a number of advantages. However, in key areas such as mobile phone chips, Qualcomm still owns core IP. It provides licenses to patented technology to Chinese communications equipment and consumer electronics equipment enterprises, and uses this technology to charge exorbitant license fees.

What about Chinese activity in the US?

USPTO’S Fiscal Year Report (ending September 30, 2014), provides partial data on Chinese filing trends in the United States. In 2013, there were 15,496 patent applications from China, having nearly doubled from 8,358 in 2010. Patent grants to Chinese residents more than doubled from 2010-2014 from 3,059 to 7,717.

Additional data is necessary to compare Huawei and ZTE’s filing trends in the United States and whether they reflect similar competitive trends in PCT filings and in China.

China to Provide Financial Incentives For Filing Patent Applications Abroad

On April 14, 2012, China’s Ministry of Finance issued the new “Measures for the Administration of Special Funds for Subsidizing Foreign Patent Applications,” effective on the day of issuance to replace the prior “Interim Measures for the Administration of Special Funds for Subsidizing Foreign Patent Applications,” which were issued in 2009 by the Ministry of Finance. The regulation outlines policies for financial assistance for Chinese who file patent applications abroad.

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Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH): experimental zone between State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) and Deutsches Patent-und Markenamt (DPMA)

According to a Joint Statement issued by SIPO and DPMA, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) experimental zone was set up on Jan. 23, 2012. This program, unlike the PPH between SIPO and USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), only includes general PPH, but not the Patent Cooperation Treaty PPH. Under this initiative, applicants can file their PPH applications to either SIPO or DPMA.

Applicants who want to file the PPH application to SIPO can visit here for further information (Chinese).

Applicants who want to file the PPH application to DPMA can find further information here (English).

This program will continue for two years and will be due on Jan.22, 2014.

Additionally, SIPO set up the PPH experimental zone with the USPTO on Dec. 1, 2011, which will only continue for one year.