25 May 2019
Huawei Technologies, China’s largest telecoms gear maker, ranks No. 20 on IFI’s list of top 50 US patent recipients. Photo: Reuters
Huawei Technologies, China’s largest telecoms gear maker, ranks No. 20 on IFI’s list of top 50 US patent recipients. Photo: Reuters

China becomes top 5 US patent recipient for first time

China has vaulted into the list of the top five recipients of US patents for the first time, after mainland entities saw a ten-fold surge in less than 10 years in the number of patents they received, a report released Tuesday shows.

According to data published by IFI Claims Patent Services, a unit of Fairview Research, Chinese investors received 11,241 US patents last year, marking a 28 percent jump over the same period in 2016, Bloomberg reports.

That pushed China into the top five US patent recipients for the first time, with the nation now standing only behind the US, Japan, Korea and Germany.

Accounting for 3.5 percent of all patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office, China is now ahead of Taiwan.

It is “another sign that the world’s second-largest economy is succeeding in its strategy to transform from Silicon Valley’s factory to a powerhouse of research,” Bloomberg noted.

Chinese authorities had outlined an explicit goal to move up the ladder of industrial technology. This prompted the nation’s manufacturers and tech firms to focus on developing own technologies and solid brand-name products in recent years.

According to the report, BOE Technology Group, which is involved in manufacture of computer and TV displays and other accessories, saw a 63 percent increase in the number of patents it received, with its ranking up from No.40 to No.21 on IFI’s list, surpassing Japan’s Seiko Epson.

Huawei Technologies, China’s largest telecoms gear maker, received 1474 US patents in the year, putting the company at No.20 on IFI’s list of top 50 US patent recipients, the highest among Chinese companies.

Also, Shenzhen-based China Star Optoelectronics Technology, an LCD manufacturer, entered the top 50 list for the first time, as it moved up 22 notches to stand at No.45.

The patent applications are being filed by both established players making the transition as well as startups, primarily in the electronics field, a lawyer, Don Featherstone of Sterne Kessler in Washington, who helps Chinese companies seek and receive US patents, told Bloomberg.

The report’s breakdown by region shows that the US accounts for 46 percent of 2017 patents granted while the rest of the world took the remainder. Asia’s share stood at 31 percent while Europe held 15 percent.

IBM has once again come at the top of the list, with 9043 US patents received in 2017, up 12 percent from 2016, making it the list leader for 25 years.

The others in the top 10 were Samsung Electronics, Canon, Intel, LG Electronics, Qualcomm, Google, Microsoft, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), and Samsung Display.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 11

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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