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State of the World Wide Patent Situation for 2020 and 2021 limited

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

U.S. patent application figures trended again modestly down in 2021. The preliminary total of 277,500 applications is again down from the all-time high of 496,886 set in 2008 but is up by 0.9% from 2020. The shift toward a majority of foreign applications has continued in spite of Covid. China led with the United States next. Patents were issued with approximately 51% being foreign. The 2021 statistics are limited because they are still not available and Covid had an impact on totals. Also, patents granted were affected by personnel reductions in patent offices.


The following are 2020 observations and statistics:


Asia is the most active area with China leading with 1.5MM applications.

  • United States received 597,172 applications

  • Japan with 288,472

  • Korea with 226,759

  • European Patent Office with 180,346 representing approximately 85% of the world IP activity

    • Germany 173,220

    • France 72,800

    • UK 58,410

    • Switzerland 53,860

    • Sweden 44,530

    • Netherlands 41,270


Asia is the most active application area which also includes Hong Kong and India. Hong Kong is different from China in that it is treated in the PCT as a separate entity.

All Patent type applications were led by China, the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

Utility Patent Applications were led by China, Germany, Korea, and the Russian Federation.


Patent Applications grew by 1.6%.


Resident filings were up as opposed to non-resident filings which were down by 2.2%.

Non-resident filings in China were at approximately 25% of total applications. The reverse was true in the United States with non-resident filings exceeding resident filings by approximately21%.


The United States is the most active applicant in non-resident filings. An important aspect of foreign filings that become patents is that they often become different from the domestic patent issued. This is a result of different patent offices having different IP considerations, and therefore different opinions.


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