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AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
US innovation is looking up.
TECH TROIKA

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

By Mike Murphy

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:

Company Origin Patent Applications
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