Overview of Intellectual Property Activity 2017

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has published its 2017 overview of intellectual property (IP) activity for 2016* in which it compares and ranks the world’s leading regional patent and trademark offices (“IP Offices”) by their level of applications for four types of industrial property: trademarks, patents, utility models and industrial designs.  


Many of the trends observed in 2015 continue into 2016:

  • Trademarks (+13.5%) and patents (+8.3%) grew globally for the seventh year in a row, whereas utility models (+28.9%) and industrial designs (8.3%) saw strong growth around the world for the second year running
  • 9.8 million trademarks, 3.1 million patents, 1.6 million utility models and 1.2 million industrial designs were filed in 2016.
  • This brought total number of IP rights in force in 2016 to 58 million.

China continues to be ranked as the top country in the world for all types of industrial property

  • China accounts for 1.8 million patents (15.2% of all patents), 12.4 million trademarks (31.7% of all trademarks), 3.2 million utility models (91% of all utility models) and 1.4 million industrial designs (38% of all industrial designs) of the total IP rights in force.
  • China received about 236,600 of the nearly 240,600 additional patent filings, accounting for 98% of total growth.
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications originating from China saw a year on year increase of 44.4% (the biggest increase of any other country) to 43,094 applications. US and Japan applicants continued to use PCT the most with a total of 56,590 and 45,214 patent applications respectively.

Asia led the world in global IP filing activity for trademarks, patents, utility models and industrial designs. 

  • The top 10 filing companies worldwide were all Asia-based multinationals. The three biggest PCT applicants in 2016 were ZTE Corporation  (4,123), Huawei Technologies (3,692) and Qualcomm (2,466).  




  • China received over a third of total global trademark filing activity in 2016 (37.9%), primarily from Chinese residents. The 3.7 million trademarks filed in China represented a +30.8% increase on 2015. 21.6% of trademarks filed in China were from the agriculture sector, 13.7% was from R&D, and 13.3% was from clothing.
  • 2016 saw a +94.7% increase in the number of Madrid international applications (a total of 3,820) originating from China.


  • 1.3 million patent applications (accounting for 42.8% of the total) were filed in China in 2016. This was up 21.5% on the previous year and account for more applications that the next four ranked offices combined: US (19.4%), Japan (10.2%), Korea (6.7%) and Europe (5.1%). The sharp rise in Chinese patent filings over the last five years has been spurred by focused government efforts and resources and is not necessarily correlated with the natural progression of innovation.
  • Analyzing patents by technology shows that China’s strengths or specializations are in electrical machinery, apparatus and energy (6.8%), computer technology (6.7%) and measurement (6.3%). By contrast Germany was transport (9.6%), electrical machinery, apparatus and energy (9.2%) and mechanical elements (7%) and the US was computer technology (12.5%), medical technology (8.4%) and digital communication (6.6%).
  • Patent applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) originating from China saw a year on year increase of 44.4% (the biggest increase of any other country) to 43,094 applications.

Utility Models

  • China continues to dominate utility model filing activity.  Of the 1.55 million applications filed globally in 2016 (excluding the US as it does not offer utility model registration), the IP office of China received almost 1.48 million – 95% of the world total (up +30.9% on the 2015).

Industrial Designs

  • China accounts for over half of all design filing activity around the world: 650,344 (+14.3%). China’s IP office received more design applications that the next nine top offices added together.
  • China is still not a member of the Hague System.




  • Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand all recorded strong filing activity in 2016.  Vietnam filed 82,041 trademarks (+21.1%), Indonesia filed 63,721 (+7.2%) and Thailand filed 56,131 (+7.2%).
  • The Japan TM office was the only other TM office in the top 10 that saw similar high year on year growth as China (+30.8%).


  • Patent applications in Indonesia and Philippines dropped -6.7% (8,538 applications) and -8.4% (3,419 applications) respectively.

Utility Models

  • Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam all saw increased utility model filing activity. Thailand filed 2,571 (+18.8%), Philippines 1,191 (+42.3%), Indonesia 542 (+32.2%), Vietnam 478 (+6.2%).   

Industrial Designs

  • Thailand saw an increase in design filings of +8.9% (a total of 4,857) compared to 2015.


For further details on the figures, click here.

 The latest available year of complete statistics.  All data refer to activity in calendar year 2016 and growth means annual growth, that is, the change from 2015 to 2016.