India filed 2,013 international patent applications in 2018 with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), registering the highest growth of 27% among countries but falling way below China and the US in volume of patent filings.

In the previous year, innovators and research organizations from India filed 1,583 patent applications with the WIPO.

“India has joined the race and has strengthened its participation in the international patent system," said Francis Gurry, WIPO’s director general. But India has a long way to catch up with China which is expected to overtake the US as the leading hub for global innovation.

Innovators from China filed 53,345 international patent applications last year compared with 48,905 in 2017. China is expected to surpass the US in the next two years as the world’s predominant hub for innovation.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies, targeted by the US over alleged security issues, is now the world’s largest filer of patents. “We are watching a clear geopolitical trend" in international patent filing activity with the gap between the US and China rapidly closing, said Gurry at a press conference on Monday in Geneva.

“Asia is now the majority filer of international patent applications via WIPO and underscores the historical geographical shift of innovative activity from West to East."

Gurry was releasing the 2018 report on patents filed by members of the WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

Last year, US-based applicants filed 56,142 PCT applications, followed by those from China (53,345), Japan (49,702), Germany (19,883), and Korea (17,014).

Under the PCT, innovators from the member countries file their patent applications with the WIPO to be transmitted to the patent regulators in different countries for securing patent rights.

The filing of patents does not automatically guarantee the patent rights unless the innovator fulfils the conditions of patentability. The two criteria that an innovator must satisfy are whether the innovation or invention adds to existing technical knowledge and whether it is inventive enough (it must be “non-obvious").

Patent filings are seen as a measure of the spread of science and technology in a country. Patent protection also provides monopoly rights to the inventor.

PCT is a milking cow for the WIPO, which generates an income of over $300 million for the services it renders to companies seeking patent protection in different markets.

Commenting on the significant increase in patent applications filed by firms and research bodies from India, Gurry said, “India’s performance in internationalization of patent activity is impressive."

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