China’s Huawei overtook Panasonic to become the top applicant for international patents with the World International Property Organisation (WIPO) last year.

Huawei filed 3,442 published applications under WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Among the top 50 applicants, Huawei had the largest increase in filings (up by 1,332), followed by Tencent (up 727) and Microsoft (up 652). In contrast, Panasonic’s filings fell by 1,157 and Sharp’s dropped by 612.

US-based Qualcomm was the second largest applicant, with 2,409 published applications, while China’s ZTE took third place with 2,179 applications.

China and the US accounted for 87 per cent of the total growth in filings under WIPO’s PCT, which saw some 215,000 applications in 2014, a 4.5 per cent increase over the previous year.

The top three companies had similar patent filing profiles. Digital communication accounted for two-thirds of Huawei’s applications, followed by computer technology and telecommunications, each accounting for 11 per cent of the total. Qualcomm had a similar filing profile, with digital communication accounting for two-fifths of total applications, followed by computer technology (18 per cent), audio-visual technology (11 per cent) and telecommunications (10 per cent). As for ZTE, digital communication accounted for slightly over three-fifths of filings, followed by computer technology (14 per cent) and telecommunications (13 per cent).

The US was the primary country of origin for PCT filers in 2014, with 61,492 applications and 7.1 per cent growth. Japan followed with 42,459 applications, representing a 3 per cent decline on 2013. Applicants from China increased 18.7 per cent to 25,539.

Europe showed signs of improvement. For the first time since 2007, the top three EU countries recorded growth in PCT filings, with strong growth coming from France and the UK.

Among the top 10 PCT filing countries, China was the only country that saw double-digit growth (18.7 per cent). The UK had the second fastest growth rate (9 per cent), followed by the US (7.1 per cent).

After China, India (1,394) was the largest user of the PCT system among BRICS countries, followed by Russia (890), Brazil (581) and South Africa (297).

The University of California, with 413 published applications, was the top applicant among educational institutions, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (234), the University of Texas System (154) and Harvard University (147). US universities occupy nine of the top 10 positions among educational institutions.

The only non-U.S. university in the top ten was Seoul National University, ranked tenth.