A summary of WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators 2017

WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators 2017 was released at the end of 2018 in the form of a detailed report covering various sections of IP activity; broken down into patents, trademarks and designs with smaller sections set aside for plant varieties and the creative industry (e.g. publishing).

The data used to build the report was taken from a range of sources, including national and regional IP offices, WIPO’s own database and the world bank. We have included some key highlights from the report below:

  • Top 5 offices (Highest to Lowest): China, United States of America, Japan, Republic of Korea, European Patent office
  • Top 5 fields (Highest to Lowest): Computer Technology, Electrical machinery, Measurement, Digital communications, Medical technology
  • Technology field with fastest rate of growth 2006-2016: Food Chemistry (12.5% increase)
  • New applications:168 Million (5.8% increase on 2016)
  • New grants: 4 Million (3.9% increase on 2016)
  • New families: 56 Million (9.7% increase on 2016)

Collectively, almost 3.17 million patents were filed worldwide in 2017, a record-breaking number! While the rate of growth appears to be slowing compared to the rate recorded between 2010 and 2014, the global trend for increasing in patent filing activity continues, with patent applications worldwide growing every year since 2003, with the exception of 2009 when a decrease of 3.9% was reported during the height of the financial crisis.

The State Intellectual property of China (SIPO) received the majority of applications, double the number of applications received by the USPTO (the next office in the top rankings). In total, SIPO received 1.38 million applications. The USPTO totalled 606,956 over the same period. Japan’s Patent Office came third with 318,479, followed by the Korean Intellectual property office with 204,775 applications and the European Patent Office (EPO) with 166,585. Taken together these offices account for 84.5% of the 2017 world total. This represents a significant increase over their 2007 share of 75.2%, giving the top 5 a 10% larger share of the total than ten years ago. The majority of this growth has been taken from SIPO, which alone accounts for 43.5% of the total filings in 2017, with the other top 5 offices’ share declining over the same period despite all showing growth in applications received.

The top technology field for 2017 remained computing. (To see an in-depth analysis of the patenting trends in cyber security last year, you can download Minesoft’s whitepaper here.)

The report also includes an assessment of “patent activity intensity” indicators, showing patenting activity whilst taking into account variables such as GDP, R&D spending, population size and other variables. This gives results normalised for economic power and development and compares nation patent activity on a more even playing field.

Using these figures, the Republic of Korea has the highest number of patent applications per unit of GDP, with China at the second highest ratio, followed by Japan, Germany and Switzerland. Other than China, the ratio of these top 5 countries has declined or remained static this year, with only China showing an improvement in application efficiency per unit of GDP.

On the same scale, France and the UK hold the 14th and 15th positions respectively, with France dropping down one place and the UK remaining in position relative to last year’s figures.

The number of patents granted by the Indian Patent office has grown by 50% over the same period in 2016, although this office retains a high rate of abandonment, with over half of the applications examined this year resulting in a withdrawal or abandonment of the application.

The full WIPI 2018 report can be obtained via the WIPO website here:


Throughout this report, China was confirmed as an increasingly important jurisdiction to monitor for new families and applications with almost half of all applications being filed at the SIPO. With PatBase’s Neural Machine translation framework, users can access and interpret this Chinese full text data via swift and efficient machine translation. In addition, we have also formed a partnership with the commercial arm of the Chinese Patent office: The Intellectual Property Publishing house (IPPH) will be supplying our products in China, having already established itself as a leading provider of Chinese patent data and information solutions.

For more information about PatBase or our suite of online patent solutions, contact us today at info@minesoft.com or call us on +44 (0)20 8404 0651.