Chinese companies drive expansion in EU patent filings

Chinese companies are powering a new expansion in EU patent filings – according to a recent announcement from the European Patent Office (EPO). As the EPO reports, Chinese companies applied for a record 16,665 patents in 2021.

Overall, the EPO saw a 4.5% increase in patent applications in 2021, totaling 188,600 applications. At the same time, Chinese corporate patent applications grew at 24%, the highest among the top thirty patent filing countries. Indeed, Aidan Kendrick, Chief Business Analyst at EPO, told Xinhua news that Chinese corporate patent applications have increased four-fold in that last 10 years.

Digital communications accounted for most of the 2021 patent applications, with Chinese companies accounting for 29% of the total. Additionally, filings by Chinese companies in biotech and audiotech increased by 75%. And Chinese corporate patent applications in computer technology increased 46.7%.

The Chinese companies leading this increase include Baidu, ZTE, Xiaomi, Tencent, Guangdong Oppo Mobile and Huawei (the leading Chinese filer with a total of 3,544 filings in 2021) — a yearly increase of 13.8%. Indeed, the top six Chinese EPO corporate filers in 2021 were also among the fifty largest European patent applicants.

EPO President Antonio Campinos said this patent filing increase reflects continued robust innovation. „It highlights the creativity and resilience of innovators in Europe and worldwide. They have filed higher numbers of patent applications and the strong growth in digital technologies provides compelling evidence of the digital transformation taking place across all sectors and industries“, he said.