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Nearly two-thirds of the world’s patent applications come from three countries

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
US innovation is looking up.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Global innovation has become a three-horse race. Three countries—the US, Japan and China—accounted for over 60% of patent applications in 2014, according to a report released by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) today.

The US continues to lead the pack, and has blown past its pre-recession output. “Patent filings do tend to go along with business cycles,” Carsten Fink, the chief economist at WIPO, tells Quartz. When companies are looking for something to cut during a recession, often they will look at the cost of filing patents—although not necessarily the research that produces them.

The US had six companies in the top 25 patent applicant list: Google, Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, HP, and United Technologies. Companies can apply for a patent through WIPO for patent protection in 148 countries.

Only four of the top 25 companies applying for patents in 2014 were Chinese, but they were busy.Huawei, ZTE, Tencent and Shenzen combined to apply for over 7,500 patents, just trailing the roughly 8,000 by top US companies. Fink says China’s patent push is part of the larger trend of the country’s economic growth over the past two decades, which has resulted in a greater investment in research and development, both by the Chinese government and private companies.

Here’s the full list of the top 25 companies:

Huawei
China
3,442
Qualcomm
USA
2,409
ZTE
China
2,179
Panasonic
Japan
1,682
Mitsubishi
Japan
1,593
Intel
USA
1,539
Ericsson
Sweden
1,512
Microsoft
USA
1,460
Siemens
Germany
1,399
Philips
Netherlands
1,391
Samsung
South Korea
1,381
Toyota
Japan
1,378
Bosch
Germany
1,371
Sharp
Japan
1,227
NEC
Japan
1,215
LG
South Korea
1,138
Tencent
China
1,086
Fujifilm
Japan
1,072
United Technologies
USA
1,013
Hitachi
Japan
996
Sony
Japan
982
Google
USA
914
China Star
China
904
Toshiba
Japan
856
HP
USA
826

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