China files record number of European patent applications despite pandemic


CCTV+BATIE GHAR: Patent applications from China in Europe grew by 9.9 percent year on year to 13,432 in 2020, the highest growth rate among the 10 leading patent filing countries despite the impact of COVID-19, the European Patent Office (EPO) said Tuesday.

The increase forms a striking contrast with the lower patent application numbers from most other regions that excel in technologies. For instance, U.S. firms filed 4.1 percent fewer applications last year than that of 2019, while Europe’s patents were down 1.3 percent, and those from Japan decreased by 1.1 percent.

Besides China, patents filed from South Korea also posted comparably stronger growth, up 9.2 percent, according to the EPO Patent Index 2020.

The top three technological fields with the largest number of patent applications from China were digital communications, which accounted for 26.5 percent of all patent applications at the EPO, computer technology, as well as electrical machinery, apparatus and energy.

Huawei was the second largest patent applicant at the EPO in 2020 with 3,113 patent applications, after South Korea’s Samsung. China’s phone makers Oppo Mobile Telecommunications and Xiaomi, display manufacturer BOE Technology and telecom equipment maker ZTE are also among the EPO’s top 50 patent applicants.

Among the leading technical fields across all countries at the EPO, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology showed the biggest increases in terms of patent filings despite COVID-19, which increased by 10.2 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.