China, number one in the world of semiconductor patents

Written by Guillaume
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This article is an automatic translation

In the year 2022, Chinese companies filed more than half of the world's patents. The trend is clearly upward.

If the term "workshop of the world" still fits China perfectly, the authorities in Beijing would like us to be able to talk about the brain of the planet as well. Things are progressing very quickly in this area, but in many areas Chinese companies are still dependent on technologies from the United States, Europe, South Korea, Japan or Taiwan. This situation is exasperating the Chinese government, which is aiming to break free from this dependence, particularly in the field of semiconductors, one of the main areas of investment.

Investments that seem to bear fruit since, according to a report by Mathys & Squire, a law firm specialized in intellectual property, China has become in a few years the main provider of technological patents related to semiconductors. Relayed by Tom's Hardware, the report in question points to 37,865 patents filed by Chinese companies in the year 2022 alone. An impressive figure that represents the bagatall of 55% of the total patents filed worldwide. More than one out of two patents is therefore of Chinese origin.

While the number of patents filed worldwide has increased considerably - +59% in five years, from 43,384 in 2017 to 69,194 in 2022 - it is mainly Chinese companies that participate in this increase. Indeed, American companies, in second place, represent "only" 26% of patents filed (18,223), and what can we say about the share occupied by the United Kingdom, for example: with 179 patents, it represents only 0.26% of global patents. In terms of companies alone, Taiwan's TSMC is in first place with 4,793 patents filed, or 7% of the total. In the United States, Applied Materials filed 209 patents, SanDisk 50 and IBM "only" 49.

These impressive Chinese figures should not, however, mask another reality: studying the number of patents filed is not enough to assess the technological progress of a country or a company. It is also necessary to be able to evaluate the quality of patents. This information is impossible to evaluate in the short term, as a patent is sometimes only used several years later. Moreover, many patents are only filed "just in case" and are therefore not of immediate interest. However, this should not obscure the fact that the rise of the Chinese semiconductor industry is a reality.