The majority of patents is represented in few patent active countries. The USA and Japan are still leading. China und South Korea, however, are on the rise.

Over the entire period from 1978 to 2015, 88% of all PCT applications were handled by attorneys and law firms from only 10 countries. By far, with 34% the USA is at the top. Japanese attorneys/law firms serve 20% of all applications. Germany is with 9% in third place, but did not reach a double-digit percentage. Following are almost on par with very similar percentages between 4% and 5% the United Kingdom, China, South Korea, and France. With values of around 2% Italy, Sweden and Canada complete the top 10.

Patents per country since 1978

Patents per country 2015

The resulting picture is slightly different when taking only the figures of 2015. Australia ousted Sweden from the top 10, all other nations remain on the front seats. The ranks are changing partially but significantly. The US and Japan remain at the top with 28% and 24%, while Germany (7%) and the UK (4%) are being outperformed by China (14%) and South Korea (8%). Thus, emerging Asian countries overtake nations which are traditionally IP-strong. While Germany is still at a similar level as South Korea, Great Britain drops significantly and must defend its lead over France, which also comes in at 3%. Italy, Canada and Australia with 1-2% complete the explicitly stated states of the top 10.

Attorneys/patent law firms who represented patent applications in 2015 could be found in 56 other nations. Overall, they are responsible for 9% of all patent publications, but no nation achieved more than 1% alone.

Over the whole period between 1978 and 2015, the group of other nations adds up to 12%. So, concentration in the large countries has increased, which is mainly attributable to the rise of China and South Korea.

Share of 2015 patent representations

This is also evident when one considers what proportion of all registrations of a country is attributable to the year 2015. It is mainly emerging countries like China, Turkey, Malaysia and Poland, whose share of the past year in relation to their entire patenting history is above average. The industrialized nations can be found, as expected, to a large extent below the average of 7.9%, because they already show patenting activity for a long time.

share of 2015 patent to overall patents

The list of largest countries is not surprising, neither are their ranks. There are nations with high IP activity worldwide. Above all, of course, is the USA, Japan and Germany. At the same time the rise of South Korea, and more recently by China could also be expected. But rankings based on absolute figures give only a part of the picture, which is why the numbers of patents represented are set in relation to, for example, the size of the population or the number of patent attorneys in the further course.