China overtakes U.S. for patent filings in 2011


GENEVA — The United Nations has reported that the Chinese filed the most patent applications in the world last year, overtaking the United States for the first time.

The U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization said China’s patent office received 526,412 applications in 2011, compared with 503,582 filings in the United States.

China overtook Japan in 2010. Japan received 342,610 patent applications in 2011.

The European patent office had 142,793 applications in 2011, down 5.4 percent from 2010, but up from 2009, when it received 134,580 applications.

Francis Gurry, the U.N. agency’s director general, said 2.14 million patent applications were filed worldwide last year, up 7.8 percent from 2010. He said that indicates a healthy emphasis on innovation despite weak economic conditions.