GENEVA - International demand for patents hit a record high last year, as innovators in China, the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Germany, sought to protect their inventions, said the UN agency that polices the process worldwide, on Tuesday.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Chinese telecoms giant Huawei remained by far the most prolific patent filer in 2022, with well over 7,600 to its name.

South Korea’s Samsung came in second, followed by Qualcomm of the US, Mitsubishi of Japan, and Ericsson of Sweden.

WIPO was established in 1967, as a self-funding agency of the UN, to provide a forum for the Organization’s 193 Member States, to oversee intellectual property services, policy information and international cooperation across the entire field.

Its mission is to lead the development of a “balanced and effective” system that fosters innovation and creativity for the benefit of all.

Record applications

Globally, patent applications rose – slightly - to more than 278,000 in 2022 – the highest number ever recorded in a single year – despite the huge challenges to the economy due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the continuing COVID pandemic, rising inflation and supply chain woes.

In India, patent registrations shot up by 25.4 per cent, and South Korea saw sharp growth of just over six per cent, but the overall picture was of more modest growth, said Carsten Fink, WIPO Chief Economist.

“On the one hand, this represents the 13th year of uninterrupted growth”, he said, “which I think is quite noteworthy, on the other hand, of course 0.3 per cent is relatively modest growth rate which we attribute to the challenging global economic conditions that prevailed in 2022.”

Asia in the lead

By region, Asia saw the fastest growth in patent filings, while also increasing its overall share by half a per cent, to 54.7 per cent in 2022.

Demand for design protection saw double-digit growth with China’s accession to become part of the international design registration system, powering a surge in international design applications.

WIPO’s Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs saw an 11.2 per cent rise in the number of designs included in international applications – climbing to just over 25,000.

Trademark protection

After what WIPO described as “exceptional growth” in 2021 of 15 per cent, the use of the international trademark system for protecting brands during 2022, fell by -6.1 per cent, which is the biggest drop since 2009, when the world was reeling from the financial crash.

2021’s growth was fuelled by the introduction of new goods and services in response to the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, and although 2022 saw a major fall, WIPO pointed out that the total number of applications filed was still eight per cent higher than in 2020.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang, said that the rise in design applications from across the world, led by China, showed that “multilateral approaches to international cooperation can deliver benefits for everyone.”