The mystery of Chinese patenting

The World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) has released its latest statistics on Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – simultaneous patent protection for an invention in a large number of countries.

Two surprises emerge from the ranking. First, with more than  1800 patents filed, ZTE (up 20 ranks from last year)  has joined its arch-rival Huawei in the top 5. ZTE actually ranks second, between Panasonic and Qualcomm. By themselves the two telecommunication equipment makers account for more than 25% of all Chinese patents published internationally. Second, no other Chinese firm or research institution can be found in the top 600.

Despite a 56% jump in the overall number of applications for 2010, international patenting by Chinese organizations appears to remain extremely fragmented. The strong contrast with Huawei and ZTE is bound to attract further comments from Washington and Brussels as to how level the playing field when it comes to intellectual property in China.