China edges Japan as No. 2 filer of int'l patents behind US

MarketsAssociated Press

The U.N.'s intellectual property agency says China has eclipsed Japan in the No. 2 rank among countries filing international patent applications and is on track to surpass the United States in the top spot within three years.

Referring to China, Director-General Francis Gurry of the World Intellectual Property Organization says "a new competitor has arrived" to key Western countries that have long dominated the rankings — a key bellwether of international innovation that could reap vast economic benefits in the long term.

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WIPO said Wednesday that inventors worldwide filed 243,500 international patent applications through its service last year, a 4.5-percent increase from 2017.

The United States accounted for just over 23 percent of those, and China nudged past Japan — both accounting for about one in five filings.